The people of Moody walked in darkness for many years but today dawns a new day! The people of this area have seen a great light and are today enjoying the much prophesied advent of a new realm. There is much joy in the land; the people rejoice and sing as with joy at the harvest. For unto us a Publix has opened; to us a new grocery store has been given! And the local economy will be upon its shoulder. And we shall call its name Wonderful Store, mighty deli, drive-thru pharmacy, fresh bakery.
Forgive the sarcasm. Don't get me wrong ... I'm also excited about this Publix ... we'll likely do a lot of our shopping there. I'm glad for the city of Moody to have such a store in our community; it's good for our local economy and will hopefully help attract other quality businesses to the area. It's great to have the selection of foods that will be offered and anticipate enjoying the type customer service for which Publix is known.
But in due time we'll get tired of it; the joy we experience today will dissipate; we'll go shopping one day and be disappointed because the item we desired will not be in stock; we'll complain because an employee treated us poorly; we'll gripe about the pricing; we'll wonder why they didn't build a bigger store when they had the chance. Essentially the newness will wear off and we'll soon view it as just another store ... nothing special or enticing or unique ... in fact, with a lot of problems and leaving a lot to be desired! Our shopping there will become routine with no joy. Likely the frequency of our Publix visits will decline because it's just not that exciting anymore. Eventually we might even begin shopping at another newer store because of the problems we'll discover with this Publix. (this pattern is true of most any new shopping experience)
Unfortunately this is the experience many people have with church (and ultimately with Jesus.) Practically every person I know who's ever joined this or any other church comes with an attitude of excitement and joy, with an eagerness to be involved, and with thankful hearts because they knew they were previously walking in darkness but have seen the great light of Jesus Christ and have been united with His family. However, in due time they get tired; their joy dissipates; they're disappointed because the church didn't give them everything they thought they wanted; they complain about other church members treating them poorly; etc. Essentially the newness wears off and they view church as just another activity ... nothing special or enticing or unique ... in fact, with a lot of problems and leaving a lot to be desired. The frequency of church attendance declines because it's just not that exciting anymore. And eventually many leave and go to another church because of all the problems they've discovered at their present one.
Why the parallel between our shopping experience at a new store and our church experience? It's because we view a grocery store and church from the same perspective - that of a consumer. We come looking for a product (rather than a person); we come to be served (rather than to serve); we seek to minimize our cost (rather than give everything); we want convenience (rather than sacrifice); we look for someone to commit to us (rather than our having to honor our covenant commitment to one another).
I write this primarily as a challenge to myself! I constantly find myself too immersed in a consumer oriented culture that tempts me to view church in the same way. Would you pray for me as I pray for you? Let's ask our Father to forgive us of our consumer mentality and pour out His grace on us as we live together as His children in covenant with one another. Let's ask our Father to focus our eyes on Christ rather than ourselves. Let's acknowledge together that our true joy isn't in being catered to, but rather is in Jesus Christ and His people.