Dinner with You? It Depends…What are We Having?

Tuesday Re-mix:

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:11-14

I suppose the age (i.e., level of maturity) varies from one person to the next on this issue, but all of us eventually grow up enough to learn how to respond to a dinner invitation with something other than, “It depends…what are we having?” I am right about that, am I not?  I mean, what kind of insensitive, childish, self-centered adult would respond that way?  Granted, we all might think it to ourselves, but we don’t say it out loud.  After all, what would our dinner host think?

In short, there is a time when it is acceptable to play the role of the consumer and there is a time when it is not.  There are moments in life when it really is all about me and my needs, and there are moments when that attitude is just childish.

As a church leader, I have a growing fear that the church in America (and surely in other parts of the world as well, but the American church is the one with whom I am most familiar) is irreparably consumer-minded and is becoming shameless in our response to God’s invitations.  To call us childish or Spiritually immature would be an understatement.  Somehow, somewhere along the way, I stopped asking whether God has an assignment for me at this church or that church and I started asking whether this church or that church has “what I am looking for in a church.”  In other words, does this church meet my preferences?  Do I like the music?  Do my kids like the  social environment?  Do I “feel fed” when I worship there?  This is a troubling trend.

I once heard a farmer friend talking about his experience feeding his cows in the pasture.  “After I put the feed out for them, I never have stopped to wonder if any of them are walking away disappointed about not ‘feeling fed’.  They either eat or they don’t.  It’s their call.”  That farmer friend needs a blog.  Because that’s a message we in the church need to hear.

I think our consumer-orientation has gotten in the way of our ability to rightly discern God’s will in our lives.  What’s more, I think church leaders have fostered this dysfunction by working harder and harder to meet the needs we tell them we have.  We are supposedly grown, Spiritually maturing Christians, but we look like new-born baby birds sitting in the nest with our beaks wide open screaming “feed me, feed me!”  The whole picture is a bit embarrassing.

Listen, friend.  As a follower of Christ, next time you are making a decision about this church or that church, or this ministry or that ministry, or this pastor or that pastor, may I make a suggestion?  That decision is not about you and your preferences.  It is not about making your life easier or more convenient.  It is about a job for you to do, an assignment from God.  For you.  Go where He is calling you to WORK and do what He is calling you to DO.  Please stop using your preferences and comfort to guide you.  You are missing the point.  More importantly, you are missing what God has for you.

And the next time you leave worship or ministry or any other Spiritual dining experience and you don’t “feel fed”…ask yourself if it is because you did not act grown up enough to eat.

© Blake Coffee

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