Imagine if I knew what you were thinking. Uh oh.

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to virtual church.

You have noticed on your screens that the pews in our building are empty today.

There’s a reason for that.

No one comes to this church any more. That’s the bottom line.

It did not happen accidentally, by the way. But this is the result of a concerted effort from those of us in leadership positions to set higher standards for the membership.  Anyway, what happened was this….

We learned to read each other’s minds.

Really. We did.

Yep. It’s that simple.

And brother, was that ever enlightening.

What? You want to know how we mastered that skill?  Would you let me save that question for another time?  Right now, I’d to tell you what happened and why we no longer have any members.

Thank you for indulging me.

Anyway, we began to be able to read each other’s minds. And things began to happen.

–From the moment we knew what people were thinking, there was no longer any doubt as to who was righteous and who was backslidden.

–Never again would we have to ask people for testimonials or commitments. All we had to do was listen to what they were thinking, and we had all the information we required.

–We in leadership positions reluctantly concluded that we were going to have to do some housecleaning.  We could not stand by and leave the church of our Lord in the hands of such hypocritical and compromised people as these.

The first to be asked to leave the church was the lustful. 

I mean, what’s more despicable than lust, right?

It turned out that some of our best men look at a woman with less than Christlike love.  We noticed that when a beautiful young woman entered the room, some of the men–even old codgers, if you can believe it!–turned in their direction and stared.  They noticed her proportions and were impressed by what three-inch heels do to the shape of her calves. Their eyes were drawn to her like iron filings to a magnet.

We cannot have men like that in our church. Some were longtime members and heavy contributors, but no sacrifice is too great to have a pure church.

Right behind them on their way out the door were the judgmental and the gossips.

If the first group, the lustful, was mostly men, the second group was primarily women.  They looked across the room and thought unkind thoughts about other members. They were harsh toward women coloring their hair or wearing those three-inch heels. Their thoughts toward women who were overdressed or underclothed were brutal.  And when someone arrived about whom they had heard gossip–she’s been seen at a roadhouse up the highway late on Saturday nights, the man she’s dating has been married three times, or someone smelled alcohol on her breath recently–their negative thoughts went into overdrive.

Obviously, we can’t have that.

So, this group was asked to leave, too.  They exited under protest, as you can imagine. They are blackening the church’s good name in the community, which is what the judgmental and gossips do best.

Good riddance, we say.

The third group to be ousted from our church was the self-righteous.

This was a mixture of male and female, but tended to be older, more conservative types.  Several had taught Sunday School for years, and because they knew their Bible they had strong convictions on modern trends and no patience with compromisers.  As they devoted more and more of their Sunday School time to bemoaning the state of affairs in the world and in our church, they were running off the healthy-minded members. So, the board felt it had no recourse but to ask them to leave.  We miss those Sunday School classes, too. Not that they ever taught much Bible, but they did have large numbers.

We hear that most have come together and started their own church.  It’s still in the formative stage, but the word is they’re planning to call themselves The Bastion of Truth.

The fearful were the next group to go.

These people were afraid of everything, including their shadow. They were afraid Obama was going to turn the nation Muslim, afraid the stock market was about to crash, afraid of a military uprising in this country, and afraid that the next plane they boarded would be their last.  They feared the church would not meet its budget, feared the pastor would not let them out on time, and feared the new music guy would introduce some new songs or even, perish the thought, guitars and drums.

We cannot have cowering, fearful people in a congregation of the faithful, that’s for sure.

So, that’s how it happened that the only members left in this once-dynamic church was the little band of leaders who had been ousting all the others.   

We’re pretty pleased that we now have a church made up only of the holy and righteous.  But not a lot has been going on lately. After all, we who are left are generals and not troops  We give orders to lesser mortals.

Our best tithers had feet of clay and were ousted. So, there’s no longer any givers.

Our finest workers had carnal thoughts, so they are no longer with us. We do miss those servant hearts.

Our best Bible teachers could be too human, so naturally they were voted out. But we miss the insights from Scripture they could give us.

Like the business of grace.  What exactly was it they were trying to teach us about grace?  None of us can recall.  Something to do with “God loving us as we are, but enough not to leave us that way.”  And we recall one saying, “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”  We have no idea what that means.

We are thinking of changing our name.  How does “Church of the Modern-Day Pharisees” sound?

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