what church life might be like if even one legalistic preacher got bored with
preaching about tithing. There are still hundreds of other Old Testament rites
that could be distorted beyond recognition in order to apply them to modern church
life. Brother Broadman gets a kick out of controlling people, and that is what
keeps him going. He has set a challenge for himself: See if there are OTHER ways
to control people besides ransacking their wallets.
On Sunday morning Brother Broadman mounted his big pulpit,
dressed in a strange headdress and a fringed blue robe with tiny bells and fruit charms dangling from the hem. Brother Broadman announced, to a chorus of hallelujahs: “From now on, there will be no more sermons
on tithing. Last Saturday night I won the fifty-million-dollar Lotto jackpot, and that’s good enough for me. But there
WILL be other changes here as well. From now on, I preside at the altar as your priest, so I’m dressed for the part,
according to Exodus Chapter 28. Don’t look at me like that, folks. Some of you are telling me we’re free from
the Law of Moses. That’s right, but there are still eternal PRINCIPLES
which must be observed in the Word of God. Tithing predated the Law, at least it did for Abraham when he tithed on plunder
stolen from Sodom. And other practices predate the Law as
well, so they must still be valid today. One by one we’ll introduce them to our weekly worship. One ritual practiced
before the Law of Moses is animal sacrifice. If you truly love the Lord you won’t
believe in a cost-free Christianity. We’ll take this step by step. It was enough of a shock for you to see me dressed like this today. But next week,
I’ll start burning sacrifices on the church altar. But it’s up to
YOU to bring ‘em in, especially if you sin in some way. Ben, I know you’re
always asking God’s forgiveness for cussing. Sister Sharon, you’re
always praying for God to forgive you for getting drunk. So next week, I expect
both you and Brother Ben to bring in a calf to barbeque on our altar. If you
guys are too poor to pop for a whole calf, then two pigeons apiece will do.”
Ben!” Sister Amanda objected. “We thought JESUS was the only Sacrifice
so, sister, but it’s also important to submit to authority. Remember, rebellion
is as the sin of witchcraft. You people are lucky you won’t have to tithe anymore! You couldn’t say that about
any other faith church in the vicinity. Our needs are simple. Just look at me. I’m
the picture of prosperity. I’ve already spent half my winnings and I’ve invested the rest on Wall Street. I picked
some winning stocks and before the year is out I should be a billionaire! I’ve learned to be content with what I have. I’ve got all the good food a man could want, three homes, my own personal jet,
the world’s biggest collection of Rolexes, the best cars, a real swimming pool, and the most respected family in Happytown.
The elder and music director are my sons, and they are also shining examples of Biblical prosperity. The ministry of this
church lacks for nothing, so there’s no need for me to ever teach tithing again.
But we would be cheating you people of the chance to learn about giving if we didn’t put SOME restrictions on
your Christian liberty. Now, if any of you guys don’t like it, that door
swings both ways. I believe in preachin’ that Old Time Religion. So after I comment on some Old Testament scriptures, we’ll top off today’s
service with candlelit meditation accompanied by Gregorian chants piped over the sound system. Then we’ll conclude with
a round of antiphonal Psalm singing.”
* * * * *
through the park with her butterfly net, looking nervously around hoping no one was watching, or people might think she was
nuts. Aha! Two pigeons were contentedly
feeding beside a trash can. As stealthily as a cat Amanda crept up over them,
ready to pounce with her net. But before she could swoop down on the pigeons….
“Hey!” a rough voice called. “What’re
The birds flew
away, frightened. Sharon
looked up at a great big cop. “Don’t you know pigeon poaching is
against the law in Happytown?” he frowned.
them,” Sharon faltered.
to church?” she squeaked.
laughed. “Well, now I’ve heard everything! Praying pigeons! Are you guys so hard up for recruits that
pigeons have to populate your pews? That’s crazy!”
The cop let
Sharon off with a warning.
But she and Ben had to show up at church empty-handed. Ben’s backyard
pigeon trap hadn’t worked.
wafted over the congregation from two urns burning by the baptistery. A rectangular
barbecue grill was set upon the altar table, coals glowing and ready for something to cook on it. Brother Broadman asked if
anybody had committed any sins during the past week. Only Ben and Sharon confessed any. Ben had cussed at his cat and
Sharon had gotten plastered on Thursday night after an argument
with her in-laws.
now!” Brother Broadman scolded. “Don’t tell me only Sharon
and Ben sinned this past week! What about you, Sister Helga?” he asked
an elderly lady. “Didn’t you do anything bad?”
DID say ‘Oh, shoot!’ after I burnt my finger on the toaster,” she admitted.
“Does that count as a sin?”
frowned. “Technically no, give or take a vowel or two, but it’s better
to be safe than sorry. Now, where’s everybody’s pigeon offerings,
or lambs, if you could cough up the cash for them?”
Brother Broadman persisted. “Ben, Sharon,
I know you two owe me some meat, so where’s the beef?”
couldn’t afford that calf you wanted, Brother Broadman,” Ben hesitated. “I know you had your heart set on
filling your freezer with veal steaks.”
what about you, Sharon? Getting soused doesn’t come cheap in MY church.”
out of a job, Brother Broadman,” she faltered.
where’s my pigeons, then!” he barked. “Unless you two were
too stingy to go to a pet store and buy me some!”
think they sell pigeons at the pet store, Brother Broadman,” Ben said, ducking down in his pew. “Honest, I TRIED to bring pigeons this week, but my stupid cat wasn’t able to catch any for
me, and my pigeon trap didn’t work.”
cop almost arrested me for pigeon poaching in the park,” Sharon
excuses!” Brother Broadman bellowed.
“All of you are lying to me about whether you’ve sinned or not, too!
There’s no human being alive who doesn’t at least have a dirty thought at some time during the week! You
were supposed to bring in a beast or two to make amends for your misdemeanors. Ye
are cursed with a curse! The Bible plainly says that if you do the deed, you
deliver the meat! Well, next week, we’re gonna take you guys down the road of spiritual responsibility a little further. This church is your spiritual boot camp. The wife and I want to head off to Hawaii for a vacation to celebrate our big windfall, but first we want
to ground you guys in some of the oldest principles in the Bible. This
I am determined to do over the next few weeks. Even if it kills me I’m
gonna instill some discipline in your souls! Next week everybody bring something
to barbecue, and that’s an order!”
week, the church was filled with squawking pigeons, easily caught by the congregation because the police department happened
to be on strike. One man brought in the coveted calf. Several pigeons escaped from Bubba Parker’s wire cage, which was pretty full because of all the trouble
he’d gotten into over the past week. The preacher yelled for a few teenage
boys to hurry up and catch them. Most of the birds flew up to the choir loft
where they bombed the bass section, before a quick-thinking tenor pulled a packet of peanuts out of his packet and poured
them into one spot. All the birds flocked to the little feast. The tenor was ready. He flung his jacket over the birds and
soon they were back in their cage.
Before any further
trouble could develop the deacon and custodian took all the animals to the back and butchered them while Brother Broadman
preached. “We’ll cook up those critters when they’re all dressed and ready,” the preacher said.
That week several vegetarians quit, along with a few other squeamish folks who barfed when they noticed that the
“purtenance” or entrails, of the animals were included in Brother Broadman’s unusual rites. Even a nurse
out in the congregation fainted at the sight of all the blood that was shed!
Sundays more pigeons were cooked in church. This time the roasting was done with
the windows closed, since it was a cold day. That set the smoke alarm off. A whole fleet of fire trucks arrived, sirens blaring. An irate cop arrived. Brother
Broadman got fined for running a smoking barbecue grill in an enclosed space. “That’s persecution for you,”
the preacher grumbled as the policeman finished writing out his citation and drove away.
“So church altar cookouts are out. Phooey! But we can get around that technicality. Next week I’ll
put up a big open-air tent and we’ll hold our sacrifices underneath that.”
Brother Broadman,” Lester Perkins asked. “Can I bring a pile of pork
chops to cook at the next service?”
scratched his head. He was tired of munching on burnt pigeons for Sunday dinner.
“Well, they ain’t exactly kosher, but this IS 2008. Heck, times are
a’changin’, and we’ve gotta keep in step. So if you sin, bring
long before teenagers came to Brother Broadman to get their zits checked to see if they had a serious disease, in observance
of Leviticus Chapter 13. Parents of newborn babies would present a “poor
man’s offering” of two pigeons, or ducks poached from the riverbank. Brother
Broadman was developing an even more liberal interpretation of Old Testament
Law by now, and roast duck tasted a lot better than pigeon.
One week Sally
Barton presented a whole ice chest full of quails shot by her husband. “Sorry,
pastor,” she said. “Last Sabbath Day I accidentally flipped my light
switch 27 times, ran my vacuum cleaner, and fixed Roger’s breakfast in the microwave.
I just can’t get it through my thick skull that on the Sabbath Day you’re not even allowed to button your
blouse or brush your hair. Stupid me.”
grinned. He didn’t need any of the “sacrifices” brought by
his people, but he did get a heady feeling from the power he exerted over his flock.
“You’re forgiven, sister. Man, it’s been a week of Sabbaths
since I’ve tasted wild quail.”
Every week brought
more changes. Brother Broadman thought some of Moses’ laws were a neat idea, so he included more of those rites in his services, although they didn’t predate the Law. When Brother Broadman
insisted that all the men let their beards grow, AND told them they were forbidden to trim the hair on the sides of their
head in keeping with Leviticus 19:27, half of them fled back to the tithe-enforcing churches. The women were also getting
tired of some of the other Old Testament rules and regulations. Why were they
expected to save a “firstfruits” wad of dough for the preacher every time they baked a pan of biscuits? He looked like he needed it!
Putting on a
brave face, Brother Broadman said at the next service, which had by now been shifted to Saturday, in keeping with Old Testament
Sabbath Law: “We’ve had to liberalize our interpretation of Sabbath law just a little to make the keeping of it
possible. Unless you stay in bed with the covers pulled over your head, it’s impossible to get through a whole day without
doing some sort of work. You’ve got to pull on your clothes, open a door,
change your baby’s diaper, open the fridge, drive your car to get way out to this church house, and all sorts of little
things like that. Just so long as you don’t do the laundry, mow the lawn,
or cook a complicated meal, we’ll count you guys as being faithful to keep the Sabbath. Sadly, we’ve lost a lot of our men because of our new requirement to grow beards and sidelocks. But far
from getting discouraged and quitting this experiment in holiness like the devil would want, next week we’ll be taking
our faithfulness to the Law a step further.”
morning, after a rousing call for sacrificial commitment to the cause, Brother Broadman announced he was ready to introduce
the congregation to yet another rite which preceded the Law of Moses. And if it was practiced before the Law, it still must
be valid during the Church Age. So he reached under his lectern and brought out
a pair of garden shears. All remaining males of the congregation stampeded out
the front door, screaming that the preacher was out of his mind.
scratched his head and said, “Now why did those fellows forsake me? All
I was gonna do was teach everybody how to shear a sheep.”
The moral of
this story: The Law produces fear, not faith (Rom.8:15; Gal.3:12).