Just One More Consumer Commodity
I often visit newcomers in town and find them to be church shopping. They want to know what they can get out of church. Churches are one more consumer commodity. Worship services are not a place for us to serve God and neighbor but a place where people expect to purchase the best: inspiring worship, good music, moving sermons, quality child care. As if we buy God and not vice versa.
—Arthur Boers in The Other Side (May/June 1989)
101 Duties And God
What will it mean in practice for me to put God first? This much at least. The 101 things I have to do each day and the 101 demands on me which I know I must try to meet will all be approached as ventures of loving service to him, and I shall do the best I can in everything for his sake.
—J. I. Packer in Your Father Loves You
In the course of two months that I spent in and around Mozambique last year, talking mostly with victims of the fighting and the famines it has caused, by far the most emotional voices I heard were in the capital city, Maputo, where great bellows of rage and grief often woke me in the mornings. The sufferers were always the same South African and Portuguese businessmen, playing tennis on the courts below my hotel-room window.
—William Finnegan, in The New Yorker (May 29, 1989)
Climbing The Same Ladder
As churchpeople, we sometimes assume that we are immune to the temptations of power. We don’t make much money. Society gives us so little power that we think ambition—the drive to succeed, achieve and have prestige and influence over others—is a problem only for people in business or politics, not for people like us. We thus sometimes fail to see how we get caught up, for the very noblest of reasons, in the same ambitions that motivate everybody. Eventually, the people climbing to the top of the body of Christ can look just like those scrambling to the top of General Motors. Often you can’t tell much difference between our leaders and those of the gentiles.
—William H. Willimon in The Christian Century (Feb. 24, 1988)
What will it profit a man if he gains his cause, and silences his adversary, if at the same time he loses that humble tender frame of spirit in which the Lord delights, and to which the promise of his presence is made!
—John Newton, from The Letters of John Newton
The story is told of a farmer in a Midwestern state who had a strong disdain for “religious” things. As he plowed his field on Sunday morning, he would shake his fist at the church people who passed by on their way to worship.
October came and the farmer had his finest crop ever—the best in the entire county. When the harvest was complete, he placed an advertisement in the local paper which belittled the Christians for their faith in God. Near the end of his diatribe he wrote, “Faith in God must not mean much if someone like me can prosper.”
The response from the Christians in the community was quiet and polite. In the next edition of the town paper, a small ad appeared.… It read simply, “God doesn’t always settle His accounts in October.”
—William E. Brown in Making Sense of Your Faith
A Perilous Theory
“If it works, that must be God blessing it.” So stated, no intelligent Christian would endorse this motto.
—James F. Sennett in the Wittenburg Door
Thou the Cross didst bear:
What bear I?
Thou the Thorn didst wear:
What wear I?
Thou to death didst dare:
What dare I?
Thou for me dost care:
What care I?
—Laurence Houseman, “Repayment,” quoted in Anthology of Jesus (ed. Warren Wiersbe)
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