A Contemporary View

Small country church

by Gordon Klopfenstein

Other sheep I have which are not of this fold. I must bring them also.
John 10:16

The church stood there a hundred years
In sanctimonious piety.
Folks took from her their nourishment
Of a spiritual variety.

And one could say she fed them well,
At least they kept returning
Drawn either by the love of God
Or the fear of hell and burning.

Anyway, folks seemed to find
What human nature craves.
It greeted them upon their births
And saw them to their graves.

Who knows why, in early days,
For nurture there they went.
But that going was a social plus
Became quite evident.

That good folks always go to church
Became understood.
Faith didn’t really change their lives.
Just going made them good.

Then, as now, they gathered there
Around that votive table.
Then, as now, they’d leave to wear
Their casual Christian label.

But ‘Christians’ rarely leave the church
With dedication sent
To shed abroad the Love of Christ.
They’re ‘Christians’ ’cause they went.

In the beginning was the Word … and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.
John 1:1,14

While there they read the Bible
Which says, “Christ is the Word
That for sad and hopeless humankind
Is the best that can be heard.”

So they feed upon the Word of God
But you have to realize
It’s just used to make them feel good
So it’s hard to recognize.

They talk in depth of Christian love.
They hold classes to go through it.
But by example then they teach one how
To never have to do it.

They wallow in their own needs
And their own wants and wishes
And if some other church folk hurts
They take ’em covered dishes.

But for people with a real need
That their love could have solved
They might pray or give some money
But they never get involved.

Oh, they comfort some church sister
Or fortify some brother
And they think they’re sharing Jesus’ love
By fawning on each other.

Then to make it look to those around
Like they have a little pity
They get right on some task at hand
And form a new committee.

They talk and talk and talk and talk.
In eloquence they shout it.
They talk and talk and talk and talk
And talk and talk about it.

They talk and talk and talk and talk
Till a year or more is past
And then they proudly tell themselves
They’ve solved that one at last.

So—at loving all their fellow men
They think they’re the epitome.
But they never touch a life in need.
They do it through the liturgy.

Their faith to them is very dear
And the way they know it’s real
Is not by sharing it with folks.
It’s how they look and feel.

In humility before the Lord
They stand on feet of clay
And they structure their religion
To keep their feet that way.

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.
1 Peter 2:2

From babes who need the ‘sincere milk’
One would expect to see grow
A loving, caring Christian soul
Not an inflated ego.

Which cares for nothing but itself
And its status elevation
And that it gets recognition for
Its altar decoration.

And if the middle ag’ed folk
Are going out to dinner
And if the clothes for Sunday make
It look a little thinner.

And should some ill beset its way
It calls the prayer committee
And has them call around so folks
Know who they’re s’posed to pity.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of God’s word. You still need milk, not solid food.
Hebrews 5:12

So those babies just stay babies
Their thoughts are me, me, me.
And they’re sure as any baby is
That’s how it’s s’posed to be.

And when someone in another way
Tries to live his calling
By sharing God’s abundant life.
Why—they find that appalling.

They’re sure when someone shares his faith
With those whose lives are grievous,
His actions grow from psychic need
And probably are devious.

“Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” … And He took them in his arms and blessed them, laying His hands upon them.
Mark 10:14,16

Like that time when Jesus took some kids
Into his arms and blessed them.
Well, current church folks would be sure
He intended to molest them.

And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.
Matthew 10:42

And that stuff ’bout cups of water
Just isn’t realistic.
It keeps those folks on welfare
And is probably communistic.

Christ’s worry of those temporal things:
The sick, the poor in spirit,
The fatherless, the widows—
It’s such a shame to hear it.

How insecure Christ must have been.
He surely felt inferior.
Why else would he share people’s needs
Except to feel superior?

Jesus’ storied childhood
Was surely a disaster.
He spent his time with poor folks.
He claimed to be the master.

His ‘guilt’ and those illusions—
Why, He could have been psychotic.
And some folks didn’t like him.
The Jew’s at least neurotic.

If He’d have gone to their church,
That one neurotic Jew
Would have proved they loved God’s children.
But, please, just one will do.

Yes, He should have gone to their church
And whether Jew or Black or Syrian,
He could have counseled with their pastor
Whose training was Adlerian.

He’d have been sent off to some retreat
And talked into the night.
They’d have said, “God loves you brother.
This guilt you feel’s not right.

The church is for your blessing
But to be truly blessed
Give all your thoughts to church folks.
Don’t worry ’bout the rest.

Take other people’s burdens
To the Lord in prayer.
Maybe God will help them
But you don’t have to care.”

I wonder what a pew would say,
That is if one could speak,
About the folks who sit on it
The first day of every week.

I think the speech might go like this,
“To have you here is grand.
You’ll learn the love of God, they say,
But I just don’t understand.

’Cause folks eat here their pious food
But all that I can see
Of its effect upon their living is—
They sit and fart on me.”

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” … Then they said to him, “Lord when…?” And he said, “Truly I say unto you, as you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”
Matthew 25:35-36,40

They talk and sing of ‘other sheep’
And ‘the least of these my brothers.’
That’s it. They just talk and sing
And pray about the others.

You see, their constant worry is
How they look and feel
And what the other church folks think
So they don’t have time to deal.

Jesus said, “Simon, do you love me?” Simon said, “Yes Lord.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs. … Feed my sheep.”
John 21:15-16

Religion that is true and undefiled before God … is this: to visit the orphans and widows in their affliction.
James 1:27

“My food is to do the work of God and accomplish His work … so do not say, ‘It is a long time until the harvest.’ Look and see how the fields already are white for harvest.”
John 4:34-35

With worldly things like Christ’s commands
To feed his lambs and sheep,
Or James’ True Religion,
Or His white’ed fields to reap.

Their time’s consumed with churchly things
Like meetings, songs, and prayer
And a dozen other social things
To get and keep them there.

So they feed their childish egos
But, just in case you doubt it,
They care about the others.
They often pray about it.

So come and sing and pray with us.
We’ll make you feel just swell.
We’ll cuddle up in Jesus’ arms
And tell the others,