My plan was to take my youngest son to a children’s museum in Atlanta where we would spend most of the day having fun at a low price while avoiding the heat. Two minutes after we walked into the museum, my plan walked out.
“And how many are in your party today?” the terrifyingly friendly lady behind the front counter asked.
“Okay, that will be $27.50.”
“27.50? I thought parents got in for free.”
“Well, we like to encourage our parents to play with their children.”
“I’m pretty good at playing for free.”
I didn’t say that last part. Hindsight.
So much for the low cost part of my plan. At least we could still have fun.
The first thing I saw as we entered was a restored John Deere tractor. There were steps on both sides so kids could climb up and sit on the tractor. Once they got on the tractor they could sit there. That’s it. My son lasted 15.6 seconds before he wanted to get down. As I was helping him down I thought of the dozens of people in my church who own real, working tractors that actually make noises and move dirt around and how those people would have let us sit on their tractors for free. Man, with a little strong negotiating we could have even gotten paid for sitting on their tractors. This day was quickly going in the wrong direction.
The next stop at the museum was a pretend truck. I own a real truck that’s already paid for.
After that we went pretend fishing. These little toy fish had pieces of metal in their mouths that always latched on to the magnet at the end of the pretend fishing poles. Again, we could have gone real fishing at home for free.
Our first three activities took about 15 minutes. I looked around and noticed that there were only three more activities in the entire museum. Our long day of playing was in serious jeopardy. In an effort to save the day, I said what any forward thinking father in my situation would say.
“You wanna eat some lunch?”
As we sat in the museum eating area, surrounded by dozens of daycare kids, I asked my son for his assessment of the day so far.
“What’s been your favorite part of this museum, son?”
He pointed at his peanut butter and jelly sandwich which was, by the way, made at our home for a lot less than $27.50.
Far too much of what passes for Christianity in our culture is a lot like the museum I took my kid to.
Somewhere along the line, the Jesus that preached about sin and repentance was replaced with a Jesus that is our homeboy, boyfriend, buddy or life coach. Talk of taking up crosses and dying to self has been overshadowed by the Jesus that wants me to make more money and be happier. The Jesus that had a lot to say about hell has yielded the floor to an air conditioned Jesus that is only concerned with my comfort. And just like the trees, tractors and fish inside that museum, this air conditioned Jesus is fake.
After lunch, my son and I left the museum and went outside where temperatures were well over 100 degrees. The heat was almost unbearable and we were quite uncomfortable.
But we got to sit under a real tree and wrestle in real grass and we had much more fun than we did inside of that air conditioned museum.
That day we learned just how foolish it is to pay for a cheaper version of what was already ours for free.
I hope we both remember that lesson as we grow older.
Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God. (Hebrews 6:1 ESV)