I've had this idea floating around my head for a while, and it's time to let it out. I had the chance yesterday to share the idea for the first time. It's now time to let it out for the world to see.
Its two words, somewhat crass, but they describe it so very well: spiritual masturbation.
If you're sexually active, you know that the best sex you've ever had is when your biggest concern is the best experience for your partner. Not what you'll get out of it, not your experience, but what they get out of it. If they capitulate, the sex is great. Otherwise, you might as well be masturbating, cause you're only doing it for yourself, for your experience.
I've seen something happening in churches all over, that I will call spiritual masturbation. People who go to church and have no concern for what is happening to others, but are there for the experience, the high, the "feeling" they get. Church should be about God, not us. But far too often it's about what we get out of it.
How do I know this? Listen to people, what they are saying, what is most important to them: Those kids should be in the nursery. The worship just didn't feel right today. The music during the offering distracted me too much. They didn't chose the right hymns today. I didn't get the "up" I needed to get through my week. I need to get more intimate with God, I need to get that "experience", otherwise I'm outside of His will. I've got to feel that this is real.
It's time to get over ourselves, and get back to thinking about others. What about the mother of that kid? Shouldn't she be ministered to as well? (I am against having a nursery in a church, I am against children's church where the kids are seperate from the main congregation for the whole service) Isn't worship about God and telling Him how great he is, not getting intimate with God? Isn't our agenda in church a secondary thing? Isn't God the same whether or not our emotions confirm his presence? Isn't God always there anyway?
It's time to grow up, stop this "I've got to feel it" thing, and stop this spiritual masturbation and get back to being primarily concerned with the other people involved. Scripture is very clear that all the spiritual gifts are given for the benifit of others, not ourselves. We cannot minister to ourselves (it's as ugly as masturbation is). It's time to start minsitering in church, and making sure that everyone else is getting what they need. It's time to get back to the sex.