So I had this a interesting experience. We’ve been looking at different school possibilities for our kids. So we’ve been booking tours of facilities and meeting with teachers and administrators. Recently, we toured a very impressive edifice. It had everything going for it except one thing: excitement. The kids we saw seemed happy enough, but they weren't really part of the tour and they didn't express to us a desire that our kids should join them in the classroom. What I’m talking about is the staff. We sensed no excitement from them. And what was really interesting: no one tried to convince us that this was the best place in the world for our priceless children.
I can’t say whether they just expected that we’d be awed by the edifice and the place would sell itself. Maybe they felt their excellent reputation in education spoke for itself. Maybe they thought their curriculum and teaching methods would grab hold of us and so captivate our imaginations that we'd have no choice but to sign up. Or, maybe they thought we weren’t a good match for their school. All I know is that all the people I talked to at this place made me feel as if they didn’t care whether or not my kids attended there. Frankly speaking, it wasn't that I expected to be fawned over, I just expected some passion for their school and the impact it was making in the lives of their kids.
As we were leaving, my wife said, “My, they were very laid back about things.” Then she said, “I hope we don’t come across that laid back to our guests at church.” And that got me thinking not just about church but about Christian life in general.
Christians, isn't Jesus Christ the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to us? Isn't new life in him the best product, vacation, experience, or thrill you've ever had? Doesn't it just make you want to go out into the highways and byways and invite people to come to church with you and experience Jesus? Ummm.... Well.... Errrrr..... Ahhhhmmm....
I think what I'm saying is that we don't act like it. We act as if there are other options. We act surprised, even, when people WANT to worship Jesus with us. What happened to us?
I think the answer is we have forgotten our first love. We've learned to put other things in front of Jesus. I'm sure those things are good, but nothing gets to go in the Jesus place except Jesus.
Revelation 2:4 Jesus says to the church (at Ephesus but maybe to us, too?): "Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand." For 200 plus years, the North American church has dominated the Christian landscape. Now, it seems, instead of being the largest sending country for missionaries, we are the largest receiving country for missionaries. And we don't seem to be alarmed by this at all. Our so called main-line churches seem to have abandoned the teaching of the apostles. And I'm not sure that most congregations, regardless of affiliation, aren't rather luke-warm to experience on a Sunday morning. Have we lost our passion to the point where we no longer believe that Jesus is the absolute best thing for people?
You are entitled to your own opinion. I happen to think it's true. I think we've left our first love. And I thank God that he revealed the way back: repentance. Apparently that's where it all begins. Repentance.
The big question in my mind: how does the church repent? I'm open to your feedback. Stay tuned. This will be an on-going conversation. Thanks for reading. God bless you. PJ