We live in a day and age that is saturated with self-interest, self-satisfaction, and just plain selfishness all round. This "what's in it for me" attitude permeates every sector of society. I have a friend who was a police chief tell me once they have such difficulty in finding qualified recruits and when they find them they have to deal with the attitudes of selfishness where they don't want to work graveyard shift because it interferes with their sleep or ability to party and they balk at having Sunday & Monday off. I guess they want to "protect and to serve" if it's convenient. If you manage employees, or own a business; I bet you are saying "Amen" on that.
Sadly, churches have to deal with this kind of societal attitude as well. "Me-church” is what people are looking for because after all, "it's all about me." So people are content to come enjoy the children's programs, the youth events, the fellowship, and the music (if they play what I like). If the preacher makes me feel good, I'll keep coming. Ask the "me-church" crowd to help by getting involved and serve in a ministry - "no way, we're out of here. After all we're not "members" anyway. We'll go down the road to the mega-church where no one knows me." No commitments, no ties, no accountability, nothing to cramp "my style." Some church members in many cases act this way too. When asked to serve, they respond with something like "I'll pray about it" which has become code for "not in this lifetime." I call this phenomenon "buffet Christianity." People pick and choose much like a buffet what they like and leave what they don't, usually the "service" component gets left like beats at a salad bar.
Our culture has replaced Christian commitment involving sacrifice and service, investing in others, carrying the cross of Christ daily as His bond servants with a non-committal, non-denominational, lukewarm, touchy-feely, consumer driven "church" which does little more than entertain, let alone make disciples.
As I was patting myself on the back for my commitment to the God who saved me and basking in the glow of my self-approval, casting stones at all these self-serving people who come to church off and on; I read in my morning Bible study yesterday Is. 20:2 "...'Go and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet'. And he (Isaiah) did so, walking naked and barefoot." Verse 3 continues telling us that God had Isaiah do this for three years as a sign against Egypt! Almost to add insult to injury, this wasn't even a sign for the people of Israel; it was to send a message to a foreign nation. God had His prophet walk around naked for three years in a humiliating condition for foreigners! Isaiah did this; he was obedient to his God because Isaiah was not pastor of "me-church."
I thought of my own commitment to Jesus and I immediately thanked God for not asking me to do this. They'd throw me in a nut house and I'd lose everything because no one would believe the explanation! I also had to repent as usually happens when I read God's Word. I was forced to examine my own commitment to the Lord. Am I willing to pay any price, do anything my God asks me to do? Would I be willing to suffer shame, humiliation and embarrassment to reach people who are foreign to me? Old Isaiah did and so did all of God's prophets and His Apostles. They were obedient because they were committed to the God who created them, the God who loved them and redeemed them from their sin. They all understood it is not about "me." It's about God and what He wants to do in order to reconcile people to Himself.
I wonder how many people will go to Hell because some Christian somewhere decided it wasn't convenient for them to witness or to serve in some ministry at church. I wonder how many pastors who were burned out or discouraged might have stayed in the ministry if they'd have had a bit of Isaiah's commitment. I wonder what the fabric of our church would look like and how many people we could reach for Jesus if we found some modern day saints who moved their memberships from "me-church" to "He-church". So next time I'm given an opportunity to serve, minister, or sacrifice something for Jesus, I think I'll remember old Isaiah, walking around naked for three years... Hmm, maybe what you and I are being asked to do is not that big a commitment after all? Something to think about, from my little corner to yours...Pastor Ralph Green
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church