“Follow the way of love…” (1 Corinthians 14:1)
Yesterday, we talked about a prevalent attitude that is infiltrating the minds of many believers these days. It is seen in the exclusive way we think about other believers and churches. And in how we tend to evaluate all other churches by our own narrow viewpoint – and criticize, judge, and condemn other believers without ever taking the time to know them (or to even understand their viewpoint).
The basic problems boil down to… 1) A consumer mentality; 2) Judging others because they are different; and 3) Major rejections over minor issues.
Over the next few days, we will look at these one at a time…
1) The problem of a consumer mentality. Addressing a consumer mentality is as simple as helping people to see what is really going on within their hearts and minds. In a ME-first mindset, it is so easy to begin to see church as something that exists to help ME, to serve ME, or to meet MY needs.
“Help and serve others? Great. I’m all for it… But not until my needs are met.”
The problem is that those “needs” are seldom met – because they are so often tied with the desire to please ourselves (a desire that is NEVER satisfied; Eccl. 1:8; 4:8).
While standing in the foyer (after church) have you ever heard anyone say something like: “Well, I didn’t get anything out of that message.” Or “that one song was terrible.” Or: “that visiting family’s kids were so disruptive – it just ruined everything!” Or: “Someone should have thanked me for what I did the other day!”
Unfortunately, it is becoming common to judge our church “experiences” by how it benefits us – or by how certain events detract from our benefit.
This ME-first, consumer mentality needs to be exposed in the light of God’s love. The Biblical principle is to “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15) That means, as Christ-followers, we need to commit to investing our lives in each other… to the point where we earn the trust of those who may need to hear some truth about their lives. We also need to be receptive to others watching over us, in return.
In most churches, correction comes with plenty of truth spoken… but, so often, in anger or frustration. This approach can only lead to more injured souls.
Love is the bridge – the only bridge – that can find a way into people’s hearts.
The consumer mentality, at its root, is a heart issue. It is directly tied to the sin nature. All selfishness is. The only solution is to get our eyes “off of ourselves” and lovingly help someone to see what they cannot see for themselves. Self-centered people cannot see their selfish ways for themselves.
This is why we need each other in the Body of Christ. We all need loving eyes, assisting us to see what we cannot see for ourselves.
And we all need loving hearts – those committed to loving others, just as we are loved by Christ. We need to treat others as God treats us (with acceptance and love) to be able to sow truth into each other’s lives.
At the heart of all this is a very important question… WHY do we go to church?
Is it to get.
Or is it to give.
Any Scriptural study of “how we should meet” is replete with the notion that we gather together so that God, in me, can minister to you – and God, in you, can minister to me. Though this is much more difficult now (because of how we do church services) there is still ample opportunity to be led to give what God puts within us, to others (wherever people gather… there ARE needs that God can meet!).
When we are ALL giving… everyone also receives – and the whole Body is encouraged and built up. This has always been God’s design for His people, in Christ.