…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ~ Mark 10:43-45
In the town I grew up there was a Denny’s. Open 24 hours it served every walk of life. People ate breakfast and grabbed their coffees on weekday mornings before heading off to work. Teenagers hung out on weekend nights getting ice cream with their friends because they weren’t old enough to stay out past their curfews. After 2:00 am when the bars closed there was a whole new group of people who arrived. (I think this group might be why there are pictures of the food on the menus. They can just point at an item and say, “I want that.” Face it, it’s hard to say Moons Over My Hammy” when you’ve had too much to drink.) I was a part of the crowd that showed up on Saturday mornings before soccer games. Denny’s is for everyone. It’s a church of fellowship of sorts.
I know a lot of people who treat their church like Denny’s. They always expect the church to be open when they arrive. They sit at their “table.” They may even have a waiter, aka usher, bring them to their seats. They see their friends and talk about the week in between Sundays. Everyone has a good time and everyone enjoys the fellowship. After a cup of coffee, they go home with the expectation of repeating the process the following week.
There’s nothing wrong with the fellowship of the church. Without fellowship, there’s something missing. We need that human interaction to feel human ourselves. But everything I just described can take place at Denny’s. The friends, the food, the fellowship…
If we want to get real about our faith, we have to accept the fact that the church is more than a place to serve up fellowship. You can get that at the church of Denny’s.
When you walk into your church are you ready to do more than receive something for yourself? Are you ready for yourself to be the offering? To give yourself over to Christ? To let him take you, not just your order or your tip, and use you to do his will?
Call me mad, but the church is not just a place of fellowship. And to go to church for the fellowship alone means that you haven’t grasped what it means to be a follower of Christ. The church is a place to feed our faith yes. But it’s a place where we go not to be served, but to learn how to serve others.
Are you ready to cancel your membership at the church of Denny’s? Then put on your apron, come into the church of Christ and be his servant.
My wife and I are thinking about getting a dog. Dogs can be a lot of work. But there are a few things about dogs that really rock; dogs love you. They always want to be near you or play catch. Dogs are loyal. I have seen dogs that have been mistreated by their owners; yelled at, swatted on the nose, even kicked. But when the owner comes home, the dog wags his tail.
Dogs can be trained. I knew a pastor in Iowa who owned a beautiful Akita. The dog went with him everywhere. If there was a long meeting, the pastor would take his dog and sit him down in front of the church. He would tell the dog to stay and there Fido* sat until the master returned.
Maybe this is why we love dogs. They will always love us. They are loyal, even when mistreated. They can be trained to do what we want them to do. Oh how we wish that Jesus could be like that.
Let’s face it, if we’re not really serious about our relationship with Jesus, we treat him like a dog. I don’t mean dog in the sense of a girl who dumps her cheating boyfriend, “I dumped that dog!” I mean dog in the sense that we can treat Jesus any way we want knowing that he will always love us and be loyal to us. And if we act just right or say the right things, we might even be able to train Jesus to do what we want him to do.
How do you know if you treat Jesus like a dog? Ask yourself the following. Do you
· Ask Jesus to wait in the car while you go into work?
· Put him in the back room of your house when friends are over?
· Expect him to love you even when you don’t treat him like you should?
· Expect him to come running to you when you call his name?
· Expect to be able to train him to do what you want him to do?
When you think about your relationship with Jesus, what images come to mind? Is he walking along side you on a leash so you can keep some control over him, or do you cut that leash loose and allow him to establish the course of your journey? Are you willing to follow him for a change and allow him to set the direction of your life? Perhaps we are the ones who should show a little loyalty and eagerly await for Jesus to call our name. What would you say if he did?
* I don’t remember the dog’s actual name. But I think we can all agree that Fido is the universal name for dogs. And if you’re concerned, I don’t remember the pastor’s name either. But it was Iowa and the story is true