Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Don't Sell Me the Opportunity, Give Me the Goods

Remember Amway? If you grew up in the evangelical church, you’ll know it. Heck, you might have even been involved with Amway but for those that don’t know what I’m talking about, allow me to offer you the Reader’s Digest explanation. Amway was (and still is) a multi-level marketing company.  They targeted church folks because who else has such a large network? Amway preached prosperity gospel and encouraged members to display pictures of their dream house/vehicle/boat/vacations on their fridge as an incentive to increase their recruiting efforts.

My Man and I had firsthand experience with Amway consultants when we were first married. We didn’t buy into the message they were selling and in the process we felt used and abused.  The trouble with Amway is that I like some of the products, especially their pre-wash laundry spray, however no one wants to sell the product, they only want to sell the opportunity. It seems many churches are like Amway – they want to sell the opportunity to “do church” but they lack inviting you to participate in the substance of Christian faith, which is Jesus. It’s not their fault; they can’t offer what they don’t have.

The church is interested in doing things for Jesus but they haven’t realized Jesus left the building. Doesn’t anyone else wonder why Jesus was standing outside the church in Laodicea while the congregation were in there supposedly worshipping him? Unfortunately, many churches today are similar. Like Amway, we want new church recruits but when other people start asking for the goods we’re like a deer caught in headlights. A blank stare is the only answer to the one pertinent question, “Isn’t there more?”

There is more but it isn’t found in creative programs, or good teaching, or awesome music. It’s found in a real relationship with a real God. People are tired of empty recruiting promises offered to get you in the door of the church. It may work for a while but soon enough people become wise to the glitz and glamour which is a smokescreen designed to hide the fact they don’t have anything more to offer.

Jesus is amazing and more than enough. When we invite him back into our church and release the Holy Spirit to come again like he did at Pentecost, we will [once again] see the harvest the early church saw in the books of Acts. The presence of God attracted the harvest, not their programs, teaching or music.

So, how do we get from here to there? The answer is simple – hunger. I can guarantee the church is not hungry if we haven’t noticed Jesus is on the outside knocking.  If you are still lingering over the last meal you ate, you’re not very hungry for anything now. Have you ever seen 3rd world hungry people? They aren’t very polite when the rice truck comes rolling in. Small, frail women, and scraggly children turn into beasts, trying to get to the food first. That’s the kind of hunger we need to have for the presence of God. Because the hungry get fed. There is food for the ones who want it.

Do you want the opportunity to “do church” or do you want the actual goods – the presence of God? Are you hungry?

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

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