Sunday, April 20, 2014
The day was great. It really was. Sundays are usually extra busy for me. Especially Easter Sundays. This one was no exception. I know that I’m not supposed to say this but there is a part of me that really does love Easter.
For a while now I’ve been paying extra close attention to one particular church. They really have been a nuisance to me. I long for the days when they return to their silly arguments about carpet color and this person not shaking hands with that person at some event. If last Sunday was any indication, those days may be closer than I first thought.
This church takes the Bible seriously. That’s a serious problem. But there are ways around it. So my team has been working hard to make sure that the church continues to think very highly of the Bible while at the same time not actually taking the time to apply what it says. A brilliant strategy, really! At the moment we are working on an older fellow who is campaigning diligently to have the Ten Commandments placed in the middle of the town square. On any given day, that man breaks seven or eight of those commandments and can’t name more than two of them. I love it!
But my finest piece of work involves another fight. This fight has nothing to do with liquor stores or that new gentleman’s club in town. It’s all pretty much contained within the church building. There are two families who hate each other because of something one said to another. Or was it about the other? It’s been so long, I can’t remember. All I know is that there is nothing more satisfying than a church full of people that can’t get along.
And the really good thing is that nobody knows why they can’t get along. So much time has passed and so many cruel words have been spoken that the hate has become a habit. Practically speaking, this particular church has three ordinances: baptism, communion and bitterness. Not a bad batting average, if I must say so. Especially when you consider how that bitterness has a way of canceling out the other two ordinances.
One of my servants has been working on a man who visited this church on Easter Sunday. He’s been curious about this gospel business so we’ve been working hard to keep him blinded. At first, we were worried about him visiting a church where people would talk and sing about sin, repentance and salvation. But just a few key conversations was all it took to turn the whole event into a dumpster fire with eternal consequences.
We made sure that as few people as possible spoke to this man. Those who did were rude, superficial or arrogant. But we did want to make sure that this man spoke to at least one family in this church. That would be our precious friends with the bitterness issues. They spent the first half of the service telling our man everything that they thought was wrong with this church.
We had ourselves quite a memorable party when our man got home from church and spoke to his mom during a big family lunch. She’s been trying to take our blinders off of him for quite some time. Her expectations were high.
You could see it on her face when she asked him the question.
“So what did you thing of the service?”
I was so happy to see this woman’s hope disappear with her son’s answer.
“It was okay but it’s just what I expected. The people all complain and fight with each other. Trust me on this, when I go out tonight, there will be no complaining or fighting. Just good times. Why bother with church when all they do is fight when I can just catch a sermon on TV every now and then and hang out at the club where it’s all love?”
Every Easter I’m reminded of that terrible day with the empty tomb. In a lot of churches, I’m reminded of my terrible future. But not in all of them. In a growing number of churches I’m reminded of why I do what I do. There really is no greater joy than seeing people who are searching for Jesus get turned away at the last second because of Jesus’ own supposed followers.
And I didn’t have to do anything spectacular. No blinking lights. No scary voices. Just a little bitterness between so-called brothers and sisters.
If things go my way, I’ll have that man with me tonight. And to think, we almost lost him. All it took to save the day was a visit to a church that was willing to let me do a little of my work. I love it when churches rent out their space and their people to me.
It really was a great day.