One thing I have noticed about today’s culture is that so many of us go about our day seeking the next best opportunity, the next best opportunity to fulfill some kind of desire, wound, status, name your “wants”, for our selves. We are seek the highs of life, we go from one experience to the next. Seeking the experiential highs of life, afraid to make commitments just in case “something better comes along”. Even worse, we cancel our commitments when something better does come up, or we cancel because we decide, “uh, no I really won’t have fun with him/her”.
I witness this kind of mind set all to often, and you know what it is exactly the same inside the Church and outside. So it’s not a Church problem, it’s a culture problem. Sure, I believe the Church needs to address it, but it is very hard to address something for which we have bought into, and sometimes we even encourage it. We encourage it with our worship services, with our snazzy programs, etc. I thank God that I’m in a community (aka, my church) which strives very hard to not promote this, however, the pressure is on and it shows it’s nasty little head quite often.
The genesis of this posting wasn’t really the obvious disregard for other people’s needs that I see each day, it actually came when I observed my elders buying into this. When I say elders I don’t mean the “council” or “deacons” or “leaders” or “pastors” at my church, I mean the people I respect in my life who are a generation or more ahead of me. With much disgust (from my perspective) I’ve recently seen the very people I respect, love, and look up to, make decisions on their commitments in the exact same way I see much of our “pop” culture doing. With things such as “well, we didn’t feel we were needed”, and “I just wasn’t experiencing what I wanted”.
Now these are blanket statements, that need more context, and to be fair, “sound bites” and small quotes never paint the full picture. However I hope you’re getting my drift. You see, I think it bothers me more coming from my elders because I (and many more as many of my friends have stated too) desire for them to lead me. I guess it’s a sense of abandonment, a sense that, well if I don’t get what I “want” or if I don’t “feel” what I want to, then I should just go somewhere else. I want to scream and make it known, WE WANT YOU, we CARE, and we NEED you. Obviously there are two sides to this coin. I need to speak up (and my peers), and we all need to pay attention to the generations below us, no matter where we are.
You see, I don’t see the Church as a social club, it’s not optional, and it’s not something we shop around for, it’s community, it’s intentional connection, it’s seeking God, seeking God’s hand through others, and seeking to be used by God. Of course it doesn’t mean sticking around some place trying to live authentically when no one else will, and it certainly doesn’t mean staying some place where you’re being abused (in any way shape or form). What it does mean, is being intentional about meeting the needs of others, and allowing God to be bigger, humbling yourself to serve, and not seeking the experience, but instead, seeking the one who has done it all, so that we can be the light he has called us to be, in serving and proclaiming, with love and truth. Our culture is hard, and I run into the stumbling blocks all the time, I have a hard time thinking outside the culture so that I can reach the culture, it’s not easy, but I strive for it. It’s like the picture, all pretty outside, but stinky inside, yet it meets the need and provides relief.
This little thought brought to you by 1 Peter 5:1-11
1 And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you:2 Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.3 Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.4 And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.
5 In the same way, you younger men must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for
“God opposes the proud
but favors the humble.”s
6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisterss all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.
10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.11 All power to him forever! Amen.