When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD:
“He is good;
his love to Israel endures forever.”
And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away. — Ezra 3:10-13
I’ve read these verses before with my young, selfish and proud eyes, applauding the younger Israelites for being forward-thinking and not satisfied with looking back or longing for yesterday. These “others” shouted for joy at the sight of the new temple – the new incarnation of their relationship with God – and looked to the future for what God was going to do in their midst. These “others” weren’t around in the days of the older temple, they didn’t see the glory of the former, they only knew the excitement of the present and the possibility of the future. The “others” were right while the old priests and Levites were wrong.
While I still have young, selfish and proud eyes, today I’m reading the verse in a different light. I still applaud the “others” for their progressive view, but I’m softening my stance toward the older individuals in attendance. What if these priests and Levites are mourning not because of the “inferiority” of the present, but because of the road the Israelites had taken to arrive at the present situation? What if they’re weeping not because they want to go back, but as an admission of their failure to be God’s people as God commanded?
What if discernment blogs and ministries took this approach to their criticism of today’s church? What if rather than condemn the new on the mere fact that it is new, they critiqued the new in light of their (the Church’s) failure to live the way God commanded?
For example, today’s seeker sensitive churches are certainly sacrificing some reverence for relevance, but today’s seeker sensitive movement is nothing more than an attempt to meet people where they are. The reason it has moved so far from the traditional, “orthodox” way of doing church is because the traditional, “orthodox” method refused to even take a step toward people, instead requiring the non-believers to make the first steps, or, in most cases, the entire journey. If discernment ministries would weep over the fact that today’s incarnation is flawed because of the Church’s past failures, I believe their criticism would be infinitely more beneficial to the Church at large.
EDIT: To clarify, when I say “orthodox,” I’m referring largely to the afore-linked discernment ministries’ definition of “orthodox” and not necessarily any denominations or traditions with which I am affiliated.