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God’s Way, or My Way?

February 7, 2015

The Church is not about us. The Church has never been about us. The Church will never be about us. The Church was designed by God to bring restoration between Creator and Creation through sharing the Gospel of Christ. The only part we play is in giving God glory and honor by loving Him with all we have and all we are, and loving everyone else just like we would want them to love us. Scripture backs this up in many places.

Unfortunately, human nature all too often supplants the true selfless nature of the Church with its own selfish nature, causing derision and strife over inconsequential things… mountains out of molehills, if you will…

I call this the “Burger King Effect,” and I have yet to see a human that doesn’t fall prey to this monster of a problem at one time or another. In today’s ever-increasing instant gratification society, it is almost too easy to get exactly what we want when and how we want it. The internet has made shopping online so much more convenient than having to drive to the store that places like Radio Shack, Sears, Best Buy, and Guitar Center are either downsizing to minimize losses or filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. eBay, Amazon, Etsy, and other online warehouse suppliers are driving physical store locations out of business. You see, instant gratification is convenient, but it has dire effects on others.

Likewise, folks don’t have to write checks or use cash and empty their bank accounts for major purchases either. The rise of the credit card as a means of payment has put Americans under a crushing debt load. According to Dave Ramsey, the average American family spends 125% of their annual income every year… How is this possible?  Little rectangular pieces of plastic that allow you to get what you want right now, and only charge you an 18% “convenience fee.” “Can I afford it” no longer means “do I have the cash on hand,” but rather, “can I make the monthly payment?” For many, as the minimum payments pile up and the collections agencies keep calling, the answer is no. But, they sure do have neat stuff! You see, instant gratification is convenient, but it has dire effects on you, too.

This desire for what I want when I want it seeps into the Church as well. We get bent out of shape when they don’t sing what we consider to be the right songs and they play the songs they do sing too loudly. We’re rankled when the trappings of our precious worship space change. We don’t like it when change happens, because we weren’t consulted. We didn’t give our input, so therefore we didn’t have a voice. And, since we didn’t have a voice, we’re going to complain as loudly and as boldly as we can to anyone who will listen until it changes back. Not only that, but we’re not going to give another dime to this place until we get what we want how we want it… and we sit back and wonder why 1500 pastors leave the ministry every month…

You see, instant gratification in the Church is of major concern, because it has dire effects on congregants and pastors. It effects congregations because it takes their attention off of what the Church was meant to do and places it directly on things that have no salvific value. It shows unbelievers that Christians don’t really care about them because they are too busy fighting amongst themselves for what they want. It changes the Church’s focus from going out into the community sharing the love of Christ and instead focuses it inward toward personal agendas, wants, and desires. It pulls a pastor’s attention away from edifying the saved and evangelizing the lost and places it on putting out brush fires amongst the congregation. It steals a pastor’s time away from study and preparation. It gnaws at a pastor’s confidence when in the pulpit. It chews into a pastor’s family.

As the body of Christ, we must put the Burger King Effect to death, and decidedly so. If we are to return to the true nature of the Church as God designed it, personal agendas and instant gratification tactics must be buried deep in the ground and never exhumed again. I leave you with Paul’s words to the Church at Colossae:

Colossians 3: 1-17 – Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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