For one of my classes, I’m reading a book called The World’s Religions by Huston Smith. Towards the beginning of the book, he explains what his purposes are in writing such a book. During his explanation, he told about a fable he heard.
Lincoln Steffens has a fable of a man who climbed to the top of a mountain and, standing on tiptoe, seized hold of the Truth. Satan, suspecting mischief from this upstart, had directed one of his underlings to tail him; but when the demon reported with alarm the man’s success—that he had seized hold of the Truth—Satan was unperturbed. “Don’t worry,” he yawned. “I’ll tempt him to institutionalize it.”The World’s Religions by Huston Smith (1996), p. 5.
The Truth is meant to set us free, but we have commercialized marketed him to the point where he is barely recognizable. I say “he” because when I talk about Truth and the Word of God, I want you to first and foremost think of Jesus. See yesterday’s post for more information on that.
We turn worship service into a commodity to be consumed, and then we are surprised when people are upset when we attempt to alter one of our methods.
We think sermons are meant to entertain, so we get upset when a preacher attempts to challenge us with something he believes to be true and, in doing so, strays from what we are used to hearing.
We expect youth programs to be free babysitting operations, so we are shocked when youth ministers expect the kids to show up regularly, not just when it’s convenient for the parents.
As one of the people over technology at my congregation, I like to watch other church’s livestreams to see what they are doing to make their stream more accessible to their home-bound viewers. One of the churches I watch quotes their intention to worship at the beginning of every service. One line says, “We are worshippers, not consumers.”
I like that.
I think if we understood that concept and taught it in our churches, we’d have a lot less things to fight about, which may just be what Jesus intended when he prayed for unity and said that he desired mercy and compassion, not sacrifice.