Gleanings – When God says “Divest!”

Proper 29, Friday, November 30, 2012

Romans 15:7-13

“Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

Are you welcoming of newcomers? Is your church?

When I walk into Home Depot or Lowe’s I am wondering if I will get what I want. I haven’t in the past nor do I have plans for the future to be concerned about whether other customers are being satisfied. The store exists to make me the most important person in it. I am a consumer with money in hand.

How much of our consumer mentality makes its way into church life? With much regret I must admit a great deal. If you want to create tension in the average church, seek the lost and unchurched. Challenge the people to devote themselves to those on the outside (Colossians 4:5). Exhort them to leave the 99 for the sake of the 1 (Luke 15). Literally all hell will break loose.

Do something simpler. Change the music to appeal to children instead of grandparents. The revolt may be greater. The people can always dismiss the exhortation but when you change the music meddling has begun, what is considered real loss to some occurs, and consumers rise up. Think of how you feel when your local Target only offers LED Christmas lights and instead of your favorite not so white minis that you have valued for decades. Change the music and people feel that in spades (see Who Stole My Church?).

“Welcome” is diminished if not precluded by ownership. If it is mine it can’t be yours at least without me losing some portion of mine. That I will resist. And therein lies the problem. We conveniently forget the church is not ours. It was bought at a price by a very specific Being. The music is not mine. The building is not mine. The pastor is not mine at least not any more than is the pastor of the man next to me.

The welcoming is not negotiable as it is for the glory of God (not the pastor’s success). If we want to invest in welcoming we will necessarily divest ourselves of ownership.

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