I enjoy a good laugh as much as anyone. I love fun, a good time, being with friends, and yukking it up. However, I do not believe those things are appropriate for church, for bible study, for ecclesiastical conferences, or for prayer meetings. The call to dignity is both overt and inferred in the scriptures.
In the first essay I wrote about my concerns with Beth Moore's teaching, I wrote that one of the issues is that she is not dignified on stage. I am not speaking of a personal preference, though I do have biases in this area. The scriptures in that piece speak to how we must act when in the position of teacher or elder. She uses signs, tricks, volunteers, personal anecdotes, jokes, innuendo, and more. When she teaches the bible, she is not dignified.
Mark Driscoll is pastor of the Mars Hill Church in Seattle Washington. He is well known for his casual approach to preaching the Sunday Services, in demeanor and in apparel. He readily admits that his sermon delivery is influenced by stand-up comedians like Chris Rock. I saw the first and only clip of Mr Driscoll a week or so ago. He was speaking of the Twilight novels and movie release in culture and how it is affecting the young girls of today, like his own daughter. I posted the 10 minute video on my blog here, and I fully admit that it is hilarious. He strode about the stage in tennis shoes, jeans, and untucked flannel shirt, making funny remarks and it was a good ten minutes of punchline delivery that Chris Rock would envy.
I believe that demeanor is important when one is delivering a teaching on the greatest information ever imparted to Man. I am not a fuddy duddy, but the clear call to present the Gospel of Jesus and Him crucified means deliver it with dignity.
How many pastors today forgo a jacket and tie on Sundays anymore? How many over-rely on media such as video, loud music, dancing, casual attire, and any and all things that actually distract from the bible as the central focus?
Venerable evangelist Paul O. Nichols wrote in 1997,
"YOU ARE STANDING ON HOLY GROUND"
"Today if there is ever a time when a man is on "holy ground" it is when he is preaching Christ and Him crucified. Qualifications are specified. The inspired writer says, "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2 Tim 2:2). Peter demanded, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God" (1 Pet 4:11). Preaching and teaching the word of God is a serious matter. The pulpit is no place for frivolity and merrymaking. Theatrics and foolishness are as out of place in the pulpit as a cowbell in a musical concert, and beneath the dignity of a faithful representative of the crucified Christ. No man has a right to profane the pulpit while representing the Saviour of the world. Cuteness and slang may provoke a laugh from the less spiritual, but the more serious disciple of Jesus demands sincerity and evidence that Christ lives in us (Gal 2:20)."
Do you demand sincerity and evidence that Christ lives in us from your church, your pastor, your services? I hope so. Dignity is an old fashioned word these days, much maligned. But while there is a place for frivolity and fun, guffaws and jokes, there is also a place for dignity. The two places are not the same.
The lowering of standards of pulpit behavior is indicative of the lowering of the place of Jesus in the heart of one who is treating Him so casually. It belies an internal attitude that Jesus is lower than He is, which is consistent with the attitude of many of today's pastors who preach man higher than he is. The lowering and heightening will eventually meet as level after the rapture. It will soon after that find its ultimate culmination in the Man of Sin. Finally, satan (for a little while) will live on earth as the king of earth where Jesus is below man. But not for long.
When the time is fulfilled and the transgression is finished, (Dan 9:24) Jesus will appear as KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS! "These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful." (Revelation 17:14)
There is none higher and all the enemies of Him are under Him at the footstool. "A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet." (Psalm 110:1)
You can be a joint heir with Christ, (Romans 8:17) or under His feet when He comes. He leaves the position you want to occupy up to you. Repentance and belief brings the former. Rejection of His pardon brings the latter.