Jumbo Shrimp and Selfish Christians
We've all heard of oxymorons. You know, those self-contradictory
phrases that make us smile. "Bittersweet," "clearly confused," and "jumbo shrimp" are examples.
Today, I'd like to address one that shouldn't make us smile, even though it is perhaps the ultimate oxymoron: "Selfish Christian."
We live in a increasingly sick, confused, lost and dying world--a world desperately in need of Jesus and what He taught. Yet, at the same time, we see Christians becoming more and more inwardly-focused. Our Churches are designed to facilitate our comfort physically and emotionally whether-or-not our programs have even the slightest impact on the hell-bound souls around us.
Now I know some will "push-back" on my assertions here, but evaluate with me the average Christian family and how they choose a church to attend/join. What do they consider? What is most important?
Typically, the focus is on the building, the music, the preaching as entertainment/stimulation, the children's programs, the teen ministry, etc. These are important--but WHAT'S MISSING?
Rarely do people choose or choose to remain in a church because of what early Christians focused on. The calling, commission, and work of Almighty God. In other words, the churches focus and effectiveness in fulfilling Jesus command found in Matthew 28:19-20.
Do we even consider whether or not the church is leading new people to Christ regularly? If so, do we then look at what systems it has in place to disciple them? Finally, and more specifically, do we pray and actually hear from God as to what he might be calling US to do in that church--or any church for that matter?
Often, I'm sad to report that the answer to that last question is a resounding "NO!" Instead of looking at where God is moving to fulfill His plan and asking how WE can be a part of it, we choose our church family based on comfort--our comfort. If we like the people, the place, the pastor, and the programs--WE'RE IN! If not, we're "history."
Most American "believers" will never know the thrill of being used by God. Why? They're not interested. They'll never even consider the possibility of God using them in a church which doesn't initially appeal to their senses. They would never give to and contribute to a church where there's a need. Instead, they'll only pursue a church that "meets" their needs.
What a tragedy. What a loss. What missed opportunities!
As I evaluate my life and ministry, fulfillment and joy has come from answering the call to places I would never go for my own comfort and the pastorate in churches which needed my help. While I've longed for "cushy" assignments in wealthy, established churches with nice perks, I KNOW my fulfillment and joy has resulted from God's placement of me in places that were hurting or in need of overhaul.
I'm so glad that Christ and the Apostles sought the lost over their own comfort. Aren't you? They knew that the essence of Christian faith is sacrifice (Gal. 2:20). They knew that giving, not taking, is the key to success and fulfillment (Luke 3:38). And, as a result, billions of us have been saved throughout the ages.
Let's join them. Let's make the oxymoron, "selfish Christian," a thing of the past....
To that end,