The one Psalmist does not use the term “playing church,” but what he wrote suggests it rather clearly. God gets weary of people attempting to play church, both by actual saints and those who are pretend saints. The contemporary church scene is characterized by many who merely play church.
What does it mean to “play church with God?” In so many terms, playing church with God by people associated with the church involves the fake worship practices of going through the motions of church attendance and praise of God during the times of church meetings. It also involves not living in loyal and faithful fashion to the principles and expectations of God the rest of the time. The ramifications of such inconsistent spirituality instigate spiritual indifference in communities at large. Such a failed Christian witness does not make a necessary difference in cultural or moral conditions of society.
God says, “Gather my saints together unto me that have made a covenant with me, and I will testify against thee.” According to the Psalmist, God will not fuss about attendance or the number of sacrifices made, but He will address the issue of His people not living truer and more consistently to “the promises you have made unto me.” What is at stake is the faithful exercise of the spiritual promises that are made to Him.
After all, when a person receives Christ as personal Lord and Savior, eternal salvation not only comes with the stipulated and stated confession, but it also comes with the stipulated and stated commitment to live according to the expectations and principles set forth by God for the Christian. Apostle John clarifies it in writing with, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.”
In other words, those who profess to be Christians but do not live Christianity truly and accurately are merely playing church. God does not approve such practice. He indicates He will judge it. That judgment is probably being manifested in the hateful violence, social injustices, and moral degradations we clearly see these days, for it seems the people of the church are barely making a dent in the character of society for the name of Jesus Christ.
The Lord also admonishes the pretend saint when it is written, “But unto the wicked God saith…” The pretend saint plays church by often adopting church phrases that keep them off the hooks of commitment, such as, “Our prayers are with you.” They will comment “God bless America” despite not offering any commitment to the God who has blessed America so well. They will invoke the Lord’s Prayer during group sessions or feel-good moments without any real understanding of what it means. They send support to food or child charities to mollify consciences. They say that church attendance is important, but do not go.
All the while, God says these that play church “despise the instruction of God.” These “consent with the thief.” These “support the adulterers.” These “speak evilly.” These “speak lies.” These “are prejudiced.” These call “good evil, and evil good.” According to the Psalmist, God asks these who merely play church, “What do you have to do with me that you do or say things in my name?” According to the Psalmist, God says, “I will reprove you, and set you in order.”
It is an offense to God for people to play church.
The people associated with the church need to recognize what is at stake, and determine to get real with God. God makes it clear, “He that orders his lifestyle aright I will show the salvation of God. For example, do not align yourself with the providence of man, but with the providence of God. Do not let your lips utter profanity, but let your lips utter praise of God. Demonstrate complete faithfulness to God. Order your life around God. Do not order God around your life.
Be right and real with God by practicing exactly His principles and expectations.
Otherwise, if playing church is okay with you, have fun while you can.
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio.