Three weeks ago my son called. “Dad, um, the Durango…” Ends up our faithful family transportation finally decided to blow a rod or two while hehad it at college. Not his fault, just timing of an old vehicle deciding to die. So with the Durango gone and my old Mazda pickup likely headed to university next year, we decided to replace both with one vehicle.
Fast forward to sitting down with the car dealer as we finalize the details of purchasing a good used truck. Of course he’s trying to get me to buy add-on plans. “Well, sir, with this protection plan, if you get stains on the seats or floor, just bring it over and we’ll clean them up.” “Jeff, that’s ok. I’ll pass. It’s a truck.”
“Understood. But with this plan, you know how you get those scuffs on the side when somebody’s door whacks into your car? With this plan, you bring the truck back here, we buff them out and it’s good as new.” “No thanks, Jeff. It’s a truck.”
“OK. Now, let me tell you about this plan, where we coat the exterior of the vehicle with a patented polymer sealant so that when a bird messes on it, all you have to do is hose it and it washes right off.” “Jeff, it’ll do the same with a hose and a rag. It’s a truck.” “But, you know how hard pine sap from overhanging branches is to get off a car? With this sealant, it will hose right off.” “Does the same thing with Goo-Gone, Jeff…it’s a truck.”
About a hundred years ago, a missionary stood in front of a missions conference and said something very simple. “Let the Church be the Church!” That’s been echoing in my mind the past few months as I’ve been working overseas or teaching a couple missions classes or in conversations with folks in our own church. The Church is a unique thing. Out of all that man has ever been a part of, it is the only thing given the charge of helping people connect with God.
For example, I was thinking of Matthew 24:14. Governments run countries. Businesses impact economies. Movies sway values, and technology shapes relationships. But Jesus said there is one thing that only the Church can control. Time. “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations (peoples) will hear it, and then the end will come.” The Church is to be going to where God is not known yet – peoples, not necessarily geography – and then Jesus returns. Does this mean that everybody will hear God calling “Where are you?” and eagerly respond “Here!”? I wish this would be true, but no. Everywhere it will be offered even if not everywhere received. Jesus’ own ministry shows this. How many hundreds of people saw the things he did that reinforced his spoken invitation and still walked away, ignored him, or turned on him, and in the end only a few embraced him?
I got an email from my Ugandan friend a couple weeks ago. “God is working. You need to come to Kanibari district next time you are here. The church is telling stories on Sunday, going into the villages they live and telling those stories. And people are saying, ‘This is good.’” People are coming to faith.
Let the Church be the Church.
A couple days ago I was in a truck I just bought. It’ll get scuffs when we load my son’s stuff in and dings from rocks kicked up and I’ll probably drop some Chic-fil-a sauce on the seat. But it’s a truck. It’s supposed to do what a truck does. I’ll take a hose and rag and get the bird poop off when we finally get home, which is another analogy we could run with, but I’ll let you do that on your own.
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