Once a month our church takes up an extra offering called the Deacon’s Offering during communion. This offering is used for needs of those in our congregation and people are more than generous. It is always interesting to sit behind visitors if their first visit happens to be communion Sunday. The looks on their faces is quite comical especially if announcing the reason for the second offering was forgotten.
Churches far and wide are known for handouts, both people approaching them with their hand out (even if, and especially if) they don’t attend there, and also for “always preaching about giving”. Our church rarely does and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
A month or so ago, on communion Sunday, the order was changed around a little and imagine everyone’s surprise when our pastor said this, “Oh. I forgot to take the offering.” How often does a church forget to take the offering?
This past communion Sunday, I sat behind a couple that was visiting for the second time. Because our normal pastors were both out of town, the announcement about the Deacon’s offering was forgotten, so this couple didn’t have an inkling why the bag was being passed again. I leaned forward and explained that we really weren’t after their last penny, or their lunch money. They assured me they didn’t think that at all.
I’m still not entirely convinced.
Yesterday in church the pastor said this, “If you’re here and you don’t desire a true relationship with God, we need your seat. You can’t play religion here.”
At first I was shocked because this is a large church and it seems in America anymore church is all about big numbers. It seems every church wants to be a mega church. Every pastor wants to be Chuck Swindoll or David Jeremiah. It doesn’t seem to always matter that people are really being utilized in God’s business if the numbers are big, God is blessing. Too many times, I think, doctrine is watered down to make the church more “seeker friendly”. We’re afraid to preach about the cross, the blood of Jesus and our sin, we don’t want to offend those who visit so they will come back. So we can “love them like Jesus” while ignoring their real need. Yes they need loved, and loved like Jesus. But when did Jesus ever pussy foot around sin?
It is all too easy for us to play religion. To claim a “form of godliness” while we ignore a true, real relationship with our Creator. We deny the blood any power in our life because we’re too comfortable filling our pews with lukewarm religion. We give God lip service because it’s “what Christians do” but when it comes to wholehearted devotion and service, it’s too much to ask.
The pastor’s statement caused a hush on the crowd and a hush on my spirit. I felt God was saying, “what about you? Are you going to continue to fill a pew because it’s the ‘thing to do’ or are you going to sell out to Me and allow Me to work?”
You see, we sit back and count the cost of following Jesus with our whole being, we count the cost and then deem it to high. We can’t possibly live that way, it’s not possible. It’s too much. The cost is too high. It might infringe on our plans for our life.
Where would we be if Jesus counted the cost of redeeming one person and said it was too high? The cost of redeeming one person was the same as redeeming all of mankind, the cost was His life.
How can I sit back and say the cost of following Him is too high a price to pay?