by Kevin Burton
The late comedian Flip Wilson had an ongoing gag featuring a hip, fast-talking preacher who strayed for comedic effect, far from a right interpretation of the Bible.
His Flip Wilson Show aired Thursday nights on NBC from 1970 to 1974. The recurring preacher segment came from what he called “The Church of What’s Happening Now.”
Wilson was a favorite of my family and I still think his stuff is hilarious. He was a gifted comedian who introduced many catchphrases into the national lexicon.
In researching his bit and people’s reaction to it I’ve found nothing but praise for Wilson and his comedy. You won’t hear me saying anything bad about Flip.
But calling his fictional church The Church of What’s Happening Now implied that the other churches, such as the one you may attend tomorrow, are about what happened long, long ago. It dismisses as irrelevant the history written in the pages of the Bible.
This is wrong twice over.
First, these Biblical messages were uttered by the Creator of the universe and preserved for us through the years by His divine providence. The fact that it happened in a time most consider distant matters not one whit.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever,” reads Hebrews 13:8, NASB. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away,” reads Matt 24:35 NASB.
The Word of God, the law and requirements of God, do not expire like a coupon for Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
Second, though people may not like it and it might not look like it to you day in and day out, the things spoken of in the Bible are in fact, happening now.
What church people call the world, the system of government, prevailing ‘wisdom” and culture, not just tend to, but are specifically designed to, deny the truth of God.
You can start with evolution, teaching that everything came from nothing and go on from there. The fact that men have invented this lie to try to remove God from the picture does not change the fact that God is still on the throne, still directing history toward His kingdom.
“For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will mislead many people. And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pains” Matt. 24: 5-8 NASB.
Those things from Jesus’ words are happening now as are these from the words of the Apostle Paul:
“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, slanderers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious, gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness although they have denied its power,” (2 Tim. 3: 1-5 NASB).
Or, you can take it from the clear-headed mind of a businessman.
“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality,” said Max DePree, retired CEO of Herman Miller. “Before vision and before strategy, organizations need to know the reality of where they are today.”
So DePree was talking business. But does not this statement apply to, hello, everything?
When I was growing up, phone books were a thing. The phone book gave you the names and locations of people and businesses in your region.
Few things were worse than an old phone book. You knew some of the information in it was wrong, had changed, but you didn’t know which.
The Bible is unique in that it is “God-breathed.” God is eternal and unchanging, his word is eternal and continues to be essential and reliable, no matter what.
“All Scripture isinspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness;so that the man or woman of God may be fully capable, equipped for every good work,” (2 Tim 3:16-17, NASB).
What a joy to know God’s true church, the church of what’s really happening now, is also the church of what will happen in the future for those who accept the gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away,” (Rev. 21: 4 KJV).