When you suffer from Crohns disease you enjoy moments of getting acquainted with people in the bathrooms. There are people who sing in the bathrooms. There are people who stare at themselves in the mirror to fix their all ready perfect hair. There are people who leave their Bibles in the stalls. People with Crohns get to know the bathrooms very well. Although, I have to admit I am blessed when it comes to Crohns. The variation of its effects is different from person to person. The effects of certain food and drink differ from person to person, too. My Crohns is fairly easy to deal with most of the time, but for the past few weeks, it has been bad off and on.
That said, we sat in the second row from the back on the end of the pew near the side door (where the bathrooms are located) in church today. A friend walked by and said to us with a big grin, “So you’re sitting in the backsliders row, huh?” He continued on down towards the front of the church. I wore jeans, a nice shirt, and I had a feeling the stubborn tendrils of hair on the back of my head were probably sticking up like miniature anteneas. Sitting in the back row allows me to people watch unobtrusively.
A woman wobbles slowly down the aisle. She always wears a frown and a disinterested look on her face. I remember her name and say a little prayer for her well being. A few people tarry to say hello to us, but for the most part we are left to ourselves. This is a good thing today. When Crohns acts up I am not in the mood for lengthy conversations. I watch as people shuffle down the aisles and grab a seat. I notice a familiar face go to a certain row. The people rise to allow the person to get to their seat. They almost look uncertain or annoyed a bit, but a smile soon explodes on their faces. Another face walks to her usual seat, but greets and converses with someone in the next pew. It takes her a few minutes to sit down. For the most part, people are finding their seats and planting themselves in them. They do not move again until service is done.
Today’s sermon was about, “Confronting The Christian Rat Race.” Ben Joseph is an effective speaker and he echoed what has been on my heart for the past month. In this culture, Christianity is/was cool. We have great music, great books, and an effective ministry to bring the Good News to the youth in our community. You might say other churches are just as effective, but how much of Jesus’ message is lost in our Christian culture? How many times have you thrown out what you don’t agree with in the Bible and eagerly read the nicer scriptures?
Christianity has become a tug of war of souls. Good verses evil; false doctrine; people pleasers; and churches trying to meld Christianity with culture. My favorite author is Grace Livingston Hill. She never compromised doctrine just to sell a book. The Shack author did compromise doctrine. Instead, he tried to sell Jesus. This brings up my pet peeve. If you are going to save souls with your gift of writing, do it responsibly. Never compromise the Word of God.
As I am listening to the sermon, I feel myself nodding my head and examining my own motivations. Do you do this? Or do you hear yourself saying, “Oh, I know who needs to hear this sermon!” Do you pick up copies of the sermon to give to friends whom you feel require improvement? Or do you give them a copy of the sermon because they are lost souls or in dire need of encouragement? I cannot tell you how many times I thought of people who needed to hear a sermon. I cannot tell you how many times I looked at people through the eyes of judgment rather than God’s eyeglasses. The service is letting out and Tony and I are making our way through the crowds. The sermon, like the aftertaste of a great dish, lingers on my heart. Be all things to all people, says Scripture, but this does not mean to compromise your values or good judgment. Amen, Ben Joseph! Amen!
- Look up in your Bible all the verses in the New Testament which apply to today’s devotion. If you really want a challenge, find all the verses in the Old Testament that fortell Jesus’ coming.
- Examine your motivations every day. A guest speaker once said he was addicted to ministry. Keep yourself accountable in every way, both on the outside and on the inside. It also helps to have an accountability partner to make sure your intentions are true and honest.
- We get cute videos and email forwards proclaiming Jesus. We are often seen with our cross necklaces and our shirts, but does our walk reflect our inner spirit? Are we just as profound on the inside as we seem to be on the outside?
- Once upon a time I was asked to run a singles ministry. I ran it with enthuasiasm and plenty of heart, but no one inquired on my Salvation. I thought I was saved, but I did not understand the jargon, “born again,” or why someone remembered the very date of their Salvation. Several years later, Tony and I were baptized together. We were born again in November, 2002. Both of us went to church, but neither of us were saved until that very moment.