Pastor Phil McCutchen

When A Madman Goes To Church

Ecclesiastes 1:17   Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly.

Sometimes when a madman meets Jesus they bow and find deliverance, sometimes they  refuse and try to destroy him. Once again yesterday the the madman met Jesus, wickedness came to worship; the deranged demoniac met the comforters;  Satan attacked the singers and the desperately disturbed tried to destroy the devotedly peacefully.   I realize it’s little consolation but it’s not the first time.  Ever hear of one of my faith heroes; politically known as “King David,” but personally cherished by us as “Psalmist David,” the “Sweet Singer of Israel.”  Here’s a highlight reel of his relationship  with the demonically possessed and mentally deranged King Saul.

1 Samuel 16:14-15   Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.  15  Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit … is tormenting you.

1 Samuel 16:23 David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.

1 Samuel 18:10-11  The next day an evil spirit … came forcefully upon Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the harp, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand 11  and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.

The second I saw the images of the little Texas country church I had a nostalgic flash back.  It was little churches like that where I started preaching revivals in my home state of Texas forty four years ago.  I can smell the wooden pews, see the grandma’s, grandpa’s and families that would sing the hymn’s and receive communion.  I can see that attendance & offering board on the front wall above the organ.  I can hear the unskilled but sincere song leaders that sang the songs; songs that still make me feel close to God.

I know Jesus is not anymore in those little wood frame chapels than he is in the great cathedrals or our contemporary industrial theater performance rooms we now worship in, but I still feel a huge heart tug when I think of singing, “reach out and touch the Lord as he goes by;” I  could swear I saw Jesus walk across the front of the room inviting me to have my needs met and offering to take away whatever was bothering my mind. But never, never, never could I imagine a mad man walking in dressed in combat gear with an assault rifle and slaughtering the people who were being the source of life and comfort to the community.

The purpose of that church was to bring hope and tranquility to people like him. Say what you want about judgmentalism in the church, and I know it exist; the truth is, those people love to forgive sinners. Those people also like to advertise how God helps us out when we are most upset. Most of you reading this have never been in a “testimony meeting” in one of those country churches like I have.  Grandma’s, grandpa’s, mom’s and dad’s, even the occasional teen ager would stand and tell us how God had answered prayer, brought them through a tough time and kept them from losing their mind.  Bringing hope to the disturbed is what those little country churches are all about.

So yesterday, the demoniac won. I don’t know how we can frame it any other way.  Think about the fact that the pastor’s fourteen year old daughter was there in church even though her parents were away.  That hit’s close to home because I’ve got kids like that, kids who love the Jesus and love the church.  In fact my Elyse  is sixteen and she would have been there too if Cheri and I were pastoring that little country church; now that pastor’s treasure won’t be showing up because insanity prevailed.

While it’s obvious now that even small churches in the middle of nowhere have to install security teams like we have at BCC, but while we have to also get more like King David in defending ourselves against the psychotic we must also be just like Psalmist David and never putting our harp away. We have to keep singing “Amazing Grace” for every disturbed mind that needs healing.  In the end our song will be louder than an assault rifle and our Gospel will outlast the insanity.