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September 9, 2013 / Pastor George Fike

Dining with blowhards


blowhardI had the occasion at a recent social gathering to be seated next to a blowhard.  Successful businessman from a suburb.  As this was a faith-oriented event, he was chatting with a dinner mate about his awesome megachurch, the largest in his area.  “We needed to build a new 14-million dollar children’s building.  The pastor announced it, and we raised the money in just 3 weeks to pay cash for it.  Our pastor is fantastic!”  But after his next testimonial, I decided I’d had enough and tuned out of the conversation.  “We had a staff member.  I don’t know what he did, but our pastor doesn’t mess around.  He dealt with it swiftly.  Nobody knows what the guy did or where he went.  He just disappeared in the middle of the night.  Just the way these things should be handled.”  I thought, “How can the treasure chest of grace seem to have so little of it available for those who have bled for the church?”  Having had my fill of boasts about numbers in attendance, dollars donated, but nothing mentioned of changed lives, I drifted into a different conversation until the time came for the main program.  Having just finished reading Michael Cheshire’s Why We Eat Our Own, I was not in the mood for modern megachurch megalomania.why we eat

Why are our churches and faith-themed entertainment (well… worship) industries so cutting-edge, yet our society by and large is on a greased slide toward moral obliteration?  Why are our churches so obsessed with the appearance of success and so bored with ministering to “the least of these my brethren”? We analyze our market to target the consumer that will best make our church grow, while we ignore the aging because their fixed incomes will not purchase enough of our technology to warrant the attention they need.  We would likewise ignore the poor –  except it’s hip to be socially involved.  (If we measure success in numbers or dollar signs, what makes us any different than a Fortune 500 company?  If we measure success in millions served, well… does the world really need a religious McDonald’s?)

In the meantime, the newly polished and technically excellent voice of the church reverberates at high volume inside the auditorium, but is on ‘mute’ in the halls of society.  We have adopted their vocabulary and style, while they have largely rejected and repressed our life-changing message.  We are no longer “missionaries”; we have become “social activists.”  When the world cries for solutions, we lob their own catchwords into the mix (“equality” “justice” “hope”), but hide our own words behind our backs: words like “repentance” “confession” “sin”.  We’d like to offer “salvation,” but the world-that-has-become sees that as arrogant, so we just put it back in our pockets.  We can appeal to those without hope and without God in this world to come and find “joy and peace” in Jesus, but how can they really come except through the offensive cross of Christ?

Church, since we’ve pretty much lost the culture war, shouldn’t we forget about projecting an image and just start living the life God has called us to?  Shouldn’t we return to caring for the blessed paupers God has called into our midst for healing?

16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ 19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ 21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master.

Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ 22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ 23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”  Luke 14

They may not be our preferred demographic, but God has blessed us with hungry souls of all ages and classes.  Let’s take care of them where they are, as they are.  God has made us a family, not a business.

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