Ever since I've come back from China two years ago, it hasn't been the same. As much as I've tried to replicate the spiritual devotion that was fostered when I was in Asia, I find this feeling of emptiness that comes from living in such a prosperous country and making my home in such prosperous churches.
Something is not right. It's like there's this deadness of spirituality all around. In China, we would spend all day on a Sunday worshipping God. We would have lunch together. Fellowship was a day-long affair, and then during the week we would meet for worship practice and the building up of fellow saints.
In Australia, you get up and go to church and two hours later you're back at home, cut off from all your brothers and sisters in Christ. Fellowship is usually a mere half hour coffee break in which you idly talk about your lives and not the deep things of Christ. The sermon is soon forgotten and complacency takes over yet again.
Brother Yun makes the distinction
It had been niggling in the back of my mind, but I learned to accept the way things are in this nation. After all, there are plenty of good intentions in Australia, doesn't that count for anything?
But then I picked up the book 'The Heavenly Man', where Brother Yun explained exactly what I'd been feeling. He said: "On some occasions I've struggled while speaking in Western churches. There seems to be something missing that makes me feel terrible inside."
He's right. There are a lot of things missing. Seriousness about the faith is lacking and this blasé attitude has been spread about like a cancer. Not only is cancer killing our people, but spiritual cancer has long been deadening the church of Australia.
As Brother Yun put it: "Many meetings are cold and lack the fire and presence of God that we have in China."
Not an easy fix
This is not something solved by having a few people speaking in tongues up on a stage, and calling out 'Hallelujah' intermittently for a couple of hours to manufacture that spiritual vibe to last the people out the week.
We're called to bear each other's burdens yet there's hardly a chance to share our spiritual trials with other believers due to fear of judgment and rejection. The atmosphere for honest sharing is lacking. The most people can do is make an appointment to see the pastor to counsel them.
There's no repentance with tears among most believers because their dirty laundry doesn't get aired enough. Nobody knows other people's business over here. Nobody knows their trials. There's no unity within the people and it is when we have these secret lives cut off from the biblical model of constant fellowship.
True fellowship and communion is the key
If true fellowship (not merely 'hanging out' or 'catching a coffee together') doesn't exist then there's no building up or edifying the members of the body. Worshipping together, pouring out over scriptures, admitting our own failures to one another - this is non-existent in most Western churches.
But this isn't the only problem. It recently made me sick to the stomach at one church I was visiting where they took communion and put a message similar to this on their projected screen: "Communion is what Christians do. Come celebrate it with us."
No, no, no, no, no!
The kids in the church took their little cup of juice and their cracker and had it in an instant. No reverence, not even any thought of Jesus! And unbelievers over here are encouraged to take communion because it's merely some thing that Christians do?
What happened to the love feasts with fellow friends and Christian believers only, instead of this mindless tradition amongst strangers?
Breaking bread is to be sanctified with fellowship
In China we would have lunch together, breaking bread and remembering Jesus together with people who we know love the Lord. Here it's a faceless tradition that many kids who grow up in the church disrespect.
So with a pathetic excuse for communion, and a general lack of honest love and fellowship all we have left is a dead, selfish people playing church. But nobody is willing to make the change. Nobody cares.
Brother Yun has this message for the Western churches in his book: "Jesus gave his whole life for us, and we give as little of our lives, time and money as we can back to God. What a disgrace! Repent!"
Needing people committed to change
REPENT! But this is only the first step.
Who among us would like true communion and fellowship for a change? Who is willing to bare all their faults to their brothers and sisters and pray for one another as it commands us in His word? Who is willing to see that two hours at church is just not enough to keep our spiritual fuel burning?
Where are the people that are willing to stand up in the church and say "this is not right"? Because there is so much not right with Australian churches.
In Australia, even with churches that have a reputation of being alive with the spirit, all I've been seeing is dead men's bones. The Christian life is a 24/7 calling and fellowship needs to take priority, we need to get deeper with Christ and with each other and not be held back by our material things.
Bridget Brenton has been researching apologetics, philosophy and the paranormal for years. You can check her apologetic effort out at 101arguments.com
Bridget Brenton's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/bridget-brenton.html