I was thinking about this the other day when we attended a community event sponsored in large part by a local mega church. As I was walking around the bouncy things for the kids and navigating around people holding balloons that said, “Fun! Fun! Fun!” I had “What? What? What?” ringing through my head.
Here in the Bible belt the ingenuity to “reach the lost” never ceases to amaze. Now don’t go thinking I”m not attacking these well-intended people; that’s not my heart.
Jesus was irrelevant on so many levels. Take up your cross. Love your rotten neighbor with the obnoxious teenager who guns his car. Be nice to the jerk at Wal Mart. And the one that makes my flesh crawl: Deny yourself. Love your life and you’re going to lose it, Buster!
Somehow, I don’t think “Die! Die! Die!” balloons would be a good marketing move though.
How did what Jesus modeled and lived morphed into what we call the Gospel in the Western world? Balloons? Circus Animals? Rides for the kiddies?
Okay…so I get the idea behind this. Lure them into a service so they can hear the Gospel. Harness their over burdened schedules with meetings. Guilt them into tithing for the new building wing even though they’re buried in debt and their marriage is on the breaking point because of it.
But by golly….we’re going to make disciples! The Kingdom is a lot of work!
And according to the numbers, we wonder why people are leaving, nay, fleeing organized religion. They know something’s not right but they can’t quite put a finger on it. All they know is they’re tired….they’ve done the stuff….and they’re still broke, worried and harassed by life.
I sure don’t have all the answers but from my little corner I think it comes back to this quest to be relevant thing. Jesus didn’t invite us to change our behavior or to try to make a message that was irrelevant to the masses relevant. It isn’t about loving your neighbor or one upping your buddy so you can feel validated….He invited us into a relationship.
But because we’re so busy doing all this stuff…making disciples…attending meetings…passing out balloons….we forget that it all comes back to HIM.
If we don’t have time to sit at his feet and to learn of his love and allow it to transform our lives we’re going to continue on the same ole cow paths.
Everything Jesus did/say pointed to the Father. His magnificent love for us and an invitation to enter into a relationship whereby we are transformed. And then that love your neighbor stuff actually becomes a joy not another “to do” on the discipleship check list.
I certainly haven’t arrived at this but the little tastes of it I get on the way are indeed compelling.
Until we are willing to live loved and love others as we ourselves have been loved….well, better stock up on those balloons.