Today’s church is beset by people who are keen to “get” and not so keen to “give”. This should be surprising considering Christ’s injunction that Christians are to be a giving people. We are to “give” and consequently things will be given to us (Luke 6:38). Jesus did not say, “IF you give”, but “When you give….” (Matthew 6:3).
A self-serving attitude can often be seen in the way people approach church. When someone is looking for a new church home they are likely to be quite fussy about what they want and what suits them. This is especially so when a whole family has to be accommodated. Each family member will have their own idea of an ‘ideal’ church, and will measure each possible spiritual home against that wish-list. Then, when it comes to attending church people often come with a “meet my needs” mentality.
There is a popular idea that church is the place to be re-charged and restored. The imagery is almost that of the desperate Christians finally getting to church for their re-charge – where they can escape the pressures of everyday life and be recharged to face the pressures of tomorrow. Each Sunday is a chance for people to get enough of a charge to get them through to the mid-week meeting, and so on.
The New Testament church had a different concept of church life. It was a place where people brought something of their own spiritual blessing to share with others. Paul described the situation in the church at Corinth as one where “everyone has a psalm, doctrine, message in tongues, revelation or interpretation” 1Corinthians 14:26). Today, however, people come to church empty handed. Rather than coming to make a contribution, with a generosity of spirit, they come to make a withdrawal. Instead of coming with a psalm or prophecy, they come with a bucket!
I have written a poem about this modern approach to church life and I’ll share that will you in the next few days.