Monday, November 26, 2007

Have it Your Way

Some of you may remember that Burger King used to use "Have it your way" as their advertising slogan. It told us that our burger would be made for us the way we wanted it.

Hold the pickles
Hold the lettuce

Special orders don't upset us.

All we ask is that you let us

Serve it your way.

Have it your way

At Burger King.

Funny how that jingle sticks in your head decades later.

This isn't a post about Burger King, although I like Burger King. I once ate six Whoppers at a single sitting. Unfortunately, I only tied the facility record. I knew that I couldn't finish a seventh and they said that partial burgers didn't count. But this isn't a post about gluttony either. It's really a story about some of the stupid things that we do when we are allowed to have it our way--without having to be accountable.

I heard a story recently that upset me very much. It was about a church pastor that was so intent on doing things "his way" that he has literally destroyed a growing ministry. Many of the established teachers, deacons and long time members have already left. Some of them will be starting a new church next month. I'm not sure if there is a particular agenda behind the actions other than he doesn't feel accountable to anyone. He enlisted spies to inform him of members private conversations so that he could know who was for him or against him. He quietly cultivated a following to be able to have control over ministries in the church and demanded that all leaders, deacons, teachers, etc. sign a loyalty oath that basically states that they will not oppose him. Most of them, being freethinkers, refused and were removed from their ministries.

Unfortunately, there is much done in the name of God, or in the cause of religion that is wrong. We can do what we want, say it is God's will and convince others and ourselves that everything is okay.

To be fair, I have to admit that I've only heard one side of this story. However, it was from a man that I've known for almost thirty years and I have a great deal of respect for him. It is also not my place to be in judgment of this pastor, that place is reserved for one far greater than I. But I am greatly concerned about the image that is presented to new Christians and to those that are outside looking in. This is not the love that Jesus talked about. I absolutely hate it when someone on the inside gives someone else a reason to want to remain on the outside. This kind of behavior drives away the very people that Jesus wants for us to attract. For that matter, it drives away good people that have served well. Most of them will find new church homes and continue to serve in some ministry. But some will miss church for a week or two...or three...or a month. Soon it will be easier to to fall into the habit of not going to church than to go back to the habit of going.

We must always be careful about exercising self will. We must really ask ourselves, "What would Jesus do?" (WWJD)

To anyone that judges God by the actions of those that claim to worship Him, I caution you...Don't. We are so far below His goodness that if you look to His people to judge Him, you will see a God that is small and not worthy of your adoration. We fail miserably when trying to live according to His will. It is a daily struggle to live well. My nature is to be sarcastic, self-centered, and mean. I have to work hard at being "nice". It's a lot easier today than it used to be. I think that I've made great progress in becoming less like John and more like Jesus. But I've still got a great distance to go and I still struggle with the inner nature of being John.

I hope that you do well in your endeavor to live life It's easier one day at a time.



Amanda said...

I especially enjoyed your last paragraph about not judging God based on our human actions. I have so many friends who have stopped going to church for reasons that are all linked to either people in church or the way a church is run.....They forget the real reason why a church is there in the first place.

John said...

Sadly, Amanda, the truth is that many people will judge my God by the way I act and the things I do.

This isn't always a bad thing. In the tenth chapter of 1 Kings of the Old Testament the Queen of Sheba comes to see about King Solomon. The Bible says: When the Queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, the food on his table,the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cup bearers and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the Lord, she was overwhelmed.

She said to the king, "The report that I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard. How happy your men must be! How happy your officials who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the Lord, your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel."

If we claim to worship and serve God, then we must happily do so. It is so unfair to God that He is judged by by our words and actions...but He is. We have an incredible responsibility to live in such a way the we show Him to be the loving and merciful God that He is.

Thanks for your comments.

Serina Hope said...

Sometimes peopel do make it hard to finsd the right church. I pledge now to try harder.
Thank you for all of your well wishes and for this great post.

Bilbo said...

John, this is probably the best post you've done in a long time (not that all of them aren't good, you understand). You know about my issues with "religion," as opposed to "living a Godly life." Every word you wrote is true: there are many who are desperate for meaning in a difficult world who will follow those who claim to know God's will, but will twist it into something terrible and ungodly (look at what is happening in the Middle East). The sad fact is that there is always someone - all too often someone evil - who is interpreting what God said, and who claims to know what He means. It's too bad that evil interpretations seem to be easier than those based upon goodness and mercy.

John said...

Thanks, Bilbo.
It does seem that those with evil designs; those with negative attitudes; those that always want to complain; are more vocal and more passionate than those would do good.