Just dropped the boys off for the first day of school… one of them a junior higher for the first time.
There was lots of crying, fretting and snot blowing before school, but I should be better by lunch.
I’ve been trying to imagine what this day is like for them, and I can visualize several things: trading items off their tray at lunch, bouncing legs under the desk trying to mask a little nervousness, and awkward conversations with kiddos they haven’t seen for three months.
I’m sure they are talking about teachers, the coming year and what they did over the summer. We (adults) do the same thing since they are just smaller, slightly less mature versions of ourselves, underscore slightly.
I wonder what their descriptions of a “good” summer vacation look like. Probably the best ones are filled with stories of fast roller coasters, expensive theme parks and excessive pizza intake. Or, maybe what would top their list is the perfect camp sight, late night stories and s’mores around the campfire, and fun in the lake.
Most adults have a different view of a good vacation. Listening to their conversation I am sure we’d hear descriptions of four to five star hotels, sleeping in, pool side lounging and excessive intake of exotic cuisine.
It is good to take a break, get away and chillax (sorry, I just channeled my inner Vanilla Ice). But, we all have to come home and get back to work at some point.
For those of us who call ourselves believers, this is especially important when it comes to the church. We can’t have a vacation mindset when it comes to our faith community, and that’s very difficult when we have been trained to be consumers.
- Our schools have parent organizations that plead and bribe parents to just “show up” for an information meeting.
- Our food banks and clothing closets beg for the spare change in our pockets.
- And volunteer organizations bashfully ask for us to carve out an hour a week for others.
But, usually, we are so wrapped up in our own world that we don’t have the time, money or energy to help with the needs of others. We try to live lives permanently on vacation.
We can’t spare the time because we have to catch up on our DVR’ed shows. We can’t spare the money because we’re making payments on that second LCD TV for the man cave. We don’t have the energy because we poured it all out at the gym, sculpting those buns.
We are so consumer-oriented, me-focused and ego-centric that we’re not even embarrassed to put ourselves far above the needs of others.
It’s normal, unfortunately.
This mentality has seeped into the church as well:
- “I’m looking for more contemporary worship”
- “The preacher puts me to sleep”
- “What kinds of children’s programs do you offer?”
- “I’m looking for some good, Godly hymns!”
- “Does the youth group take a ski trip?”
- “Why don’t you have a singles ministry?”
- “You better only use the King James Version.”
- “You’ll have a nursery for that event, right?”
- “Turn the drums down! That can’t honor Jesus!”
- “You know what this church needs? I’ll tell you…”
In our vacation/consumer mentality, we have somehow mistaken our church for a Spiritual Resort & Day Spa.
The thought that you sat through some membership class a couple years ago and now you throw your “dues” in the plate every couple of weeks makes you some kind of member entitled to services… well, it’s just not biblical.
Your church, wherever you attend, is not a vacation destination it is a military installation. It’s not the place you come to get pampered, it’s the training ground where you come to get prepared for spiritual warfare.
With regard to our churches, the focus should not be on what we get, but what we can give.
We were saved to serve.
38And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. 39 And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.
Back from the brink of death, this women offered the most natural response, she began to serve.
If our natural inclination is not to hit our knees in service to others out of gratitude for what our Lord has already done for us, we need to recalibrate.
It’s time to remember the grace we’ve been given, instead of pounding the table, complaining to the “wait staff” and demanding more.
It’s time to pour it out, use it up and leave nothing left when it comes to living our lives for others… love God, grow up and serve all.
You were saved to serve.