One of my colleagues got the combination “eye roll” and “tsk, tsk” today from someone who attends our church and was visiting our offices. Why, you might very well ask, would anyone give a colleague of mine, who has offered his/her life as a living sacrifice to God, and who, by the way, along with most of our staff, is at least $10,000 underpaid annually according to a survey of other churches in our region and of our size and budget, get the combination “eye roll” and “tsk, tsk”?
Because our offices were messy and full of donations. Donations of school supplies requested by our local public elementary. Donations of food requested by the same school for students who have no food on the weekend. And donations of clothing for the clothes closet we have that I didn’t have time to take to the room where it is housed.
Why do I bring this up? Because such incidents serve as a reminder that we can’t forget who we are or, more likely, subscribe to the great lie about who we are. What is the great lie? That we, the church, are like a cruise ship. The great lie says that our job is to serve our passengers: to give them the music they like, the food they like, the entertainment they like, the activities they like. If they, the passenger/members aren’t happy, we need to fix what is broken immediately.
But we aren’t a cruise ship.
Incidentally, isn’t it interesting that most church people will pay more for a cruise than they give the church in offerings during the same year?
But that isn’t the reason we’re not a cruise ship. The reason that we are not a cruise ship is because we are, in fact, a warship. We are under the flag of our Lord Jesus Christ who has given us a mission and he is at war with the powers and principalities and spiritual powers of this world. And because our Lord is at war, we are also at war. The church does not exist to make our attenders comfortable or to serve them: we exist to serve our Lord Christ himself, to be his ambassadors, his representatives, his soldiers, and his servants. Scripture is clear on this point, there can simply be no argument.
The church is not the Love Boat. We are, instead, more like the Battlestar Galactica. We have the holy remnant of a fallen humanity on board and we must all make sacrifices for the common good. We are a “rag tag fleet” of survivors who have been saved for a purpose. We need to have quantities of clothes to clothe the naked, quantities of food to feed the hungry, quantities of whatever is needed to meet whatever need we encounter. Because that is the mission.
Mission is messy. Our Lord has sent us on a mission. We are his partners in redeeming a fallen race. If our mission is messy there are times when we, or our offices, will be messy too.
Let’s remember who we are called to be. Thanks for reading. God bless you. PJ