Aaron Summers

Down at the Coffee Shop

In Church, Control, Leadership, Politics, Volunteers on August 23, 2012 at 8:17 am

“Hi.  My name is Brenda Anne.  How would you like your coffee?”

I like my coffee strong, bold and black.  If you get too much cream or sugar it becomes dessert.  I enjoy the extras sometimes and in moderation.  I prefer it straight.  Down at our local coffee shops, one serves it just straight and the other offers a variety.  I listen to the conversations that surround me.  I find most are about family, sports, or weather.  It has been said that you can talk about anything you want but don’t bring up religion and politics.  You might slide with one or the other but you should never mix the two.  It is kind of like mentos and diet coke, or oil and water, or fire and gas.  Bad things could happen.  Civil discussions about the weather, local sports, and gossip can turn ugly when bringing up religion and politics.  That Pandora’s box should be left alone.

Resist!  Why is it that people in coffee shops can get along better than those in church?  Friendly, honest, and social people somehow change when entering church.  The cutthroat mentality of corporate America has somehow slipped in to our sleepy little houses of worship and education. Jesus dealt with two people who wanted to bring power and politics into the circle of Jesus.  Watch His response.

20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons approached Him with her sons. She knelt down to ask Him for something.

21 “What do you want?” He asked her.
“Promise,” she said to Him, “that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right and the other on Your left, in Your kingdom.”

22 But Jesus answered, “You don’t know what you’re asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?”
“We are able,” they said to Him.
23 He told them, “You will indeed drink My cup. But to sit at My right and left is not Mine to give; instead, it belongs to those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.” 24 When the 10 [disciples] heard this, they became indignant with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them. 26 It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave;

28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life-a ransom for many.”

1.  It’s not about climbing a ladder.  It all begins when someone desires to be better.  Unbridled ambition leads to harmful results.  It still amazes me how many people try to climb a ladder at church like they do the corporate one.  They try for certain positions or committees.  Too often, pastors and administrators play along.  The only ladder we have is Jacob’s and it went to Heaven.  I am not ready to climb that one yet.

2.  It’s not about control.  When things in life get messy and our circumstances are beyond our control, we freak out.  Every one of us will, at some level, attempt to gain a measure of control.  Unfortunately, our churches are filled with hurting broken people.  It is natural that the church will constantly battle with people trying to gain a measure of control.  Whether it is for pride, personal gain, or just for pleasure, those seeking control for control’s sake must be resisted.  Church is not the place for people to build their little kingdoms in the midst of God’s Kingdom.  Jesus rebuked these two for wanting to gain a seat of power.  Why do we allow it in our churches?  Is it because we fear them more than God?  Is it because we like the feeling of being in the cool crowd for a change?  Resist!

3.  It’s not about you.  That’s sounds trite but it is so true.  Church is not about you.  Let that sink in a minute.  Church is about worshipping God and serving other people.  The next time you don’t like a song consider how someone else might be touched by it.  The next time you don’t find a Bible study you want to attend consider where you could serve children and students.  The next time someone offends you, pray for them and go discuss the matter.  Jesus tries to get them to see this point.  The first will be last and the last, first.

4.  It is about salvation.  The church is established as the go-between for God and Man.  This group of people gather together and pour their lives out before God in sacrificial worship.  Through study and support in small groups they become ready to meet the days ahead before gathering together again.  We, the people, are the church.  Our purpose is to proclaim the gospel and call for response.  We are not primarily a food pantry or clothes closet, or bill payment company.  We are designed to bring the message of Jesus to everyone around us in such a way that others would receive and believe.

5.  It is about service.  The building does not magically come alive during the week and fulfill all the necessities you were called by God to fulfill.  God, in His infinite love and wisdom, offered salvation.  Upon receipt, you were further given forgiveness, hope, and a job.  Yes….a job.  Everyone follower of Jesus has a job to do in the kingdom for the king.  This job is not to bring you glory, but rather, to bring God glory.  Any accolades are to be handed over to God.  But we like the shiny trophies, right?  We like to hold them.  We like to display them.  We like to hear our accomplishments spoken of before men.  What anthem was played every time a USA Olympian won gold?  Was it their personal song for life?  No.  The national anthem was played.  Why is it that when we succeed in service we want our personal anthem to be played?  We are but servants to the King.  Keep your head down.  Do your job.  Leave the rest to God.

6.  It is about our Savior.  All of this is for someone.  It is for the King.  All of this work, worship, and witness is done at the express desire of the King.  We do this for His pleasure.  When politics and control are brought in to the church, our focus shifts away from the Savior and to ourselves.  Everything is done for Him.  Each of us must set aside our agendas and get on God’s.

The coffee cup may be bottomless, but I am not.  Think on these things.  We’ll talk more later.

“Brenda Anne?  Check please.”

  1. Why so different at the Coffee Shop than the church? The current condition of the New Testament church may stem from many sources (carnality, unregenerated hearts, lack of solid biblical teaching). But instead of focusing on the reasons why, I feel it better to attempt a cure. And that cure is once again embracing the mind and model of Christ. Our Saviour did not come to be served but to serve. Being a member of a New Testament church is our opportunity to follow Christ’s example and become servants of one another. A healthy church is not measured by what you may get out of it but rather by how much you put into serving others. But beware, serving others will invariably lead to loving them. If you have no place in your heart for love then don’t serve. And if you have no desire to serve then leave the church and get out of the way as God enlarges His kingdom.

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