A man with a long beard and his friend, a short, bald-headed guy, shuffled slowly into the dimly lit hall. Like others in the jam-packed crowd, they were in awe.
Ah, the golden lights! The decorative windows! The spectacular multi-colored ceiling!
“I could stare at it all day,” said the bald-headed guy. Someone nudged him. He looked down. “Ow, I just got a crick in my neck!”
“Aw, stop complaining and get in the groove. The music is about to begin,” the bearded man whispered in his ear.
The two men pushed their way to the front of the crowd, eager for a front row seat. Loud joyful sounds filled the air. Everyone was clapping and stomping their feet to the music.
“I have no idea what the words are – in fact, I think there are no words – but I like it,” the bald man shouted to his friend above the noise.
“It’s not the words. It’s the beat that counts,” the bearded man declared.
“Well, anyhow, this is how church should be run,” replied his friend. “I mean, like, wow. You couldn’t ask for a cooler band. Look at all these famous singers. Having them here takes the worship to a whole new level.”
“Hey, I’m with you, man. Why should you have to believe in God to be in His band? All you need is a little talent and some rhythm. And the best part is, this is local. You don’t have to drive halfway across the country to hear them play.” As the worship came to a close, the bearded man whispered to his friend. “Oh wow, it’s the king of rock himself! I’m simply dying to get his autograph.”
The two men watched in awe at the amazing figure who strutted up to the stage, his dark locks bathed in a pool of firelight. The light came from a short sparkly stick he held in his hand. A seductive aroma filled the air. A hush fell on the crowd as the incense was offered.
“Do you know what I love about this guy?” the bald man said “He’s so down to earth, unlike the preachers at that crazy hellfire-and-brimstone church we used to attend. It always took two days to get there, and they’re so legalistic.”
The bearded man nodded. “Don’t I know it! Rules upon rules upon rules. Ugh! I know they criticize us for being too worldly, but we’re just being seeker-friendly. It’s called ‘real life evangelism.’ What don’t they get?”
“Who cares what they think? Those boring guys are just plain jealous,” his friend replied. “But our fearless leader knows how to rev things up and draw a crowd. We’ll prove that we can praise the LORD just as well as they can, if not better!”
The two high fived each other. “Oh, yeah!”
Suddenly a cry rang out. It was like an ambulance. People in the crowd began to murmur.
“What’s happening?” the bald man asked.
“I see a strange man up front,” said the bearded man. “He’s looking at our king and pointing to the altar. If only the people around me would be quiet so I could hear what he was saying.”
They both heard the king yell to his guards, “Stop that disruptive man!” But as the guards ran to stop him, the ground began to shake. Good vibrations it was not. The men watched in horror as the altar split and fell apart. The ashes that were on it spilled upon the ground.
“Oh no, there seems to be something wrong with the king’s hand,” moaned the bearded man. “Now I’ll never get his autograph! But wait, the man who interrupted the meeting is praying for him. I think the hand may be okay. I see the two talking together. I wonder what they’re saying?”
“You don’t suppose the earthquake was a sign, do you?” asked the bald guy. “After all, this church is sort of built around an idol, if you know what I mean.”
“Yeah, I know. Everybody wants to be an idol. But the golden calf is only there for decoration. We’re not really worshiping it. We’re worshiping the LORD. I mean, hey, after what we went through with that hellfire-and-brimstone guy, we could use some entertainment, don’t you think? According to King Jeroboam, a little eye candy never hurt anyone.”
(Inspired by events recorded in I Kings chapter 12 and 13)