Jump Start # 2425
Galatians 5:15 “But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.”
So, here is a blast out of the past. When I was in college, bored, not dating any one, a few of us preacher boys sat around are rewrote modern songs to have a preacher twist to them. This was long before Weird Al, or, Tim Hawkins. For instance, the country song, “Mamma, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys,” became “Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be preachers.” Lionel Richie’s “Once, twice, three times a lady,” became “Once, twice, three times a preacher.” Kenny Rogers, “Don’t fall in love with a dreamer,” became “Don’t fall in love with a preacher.” Even Dr. Hook’s, “Cover of the Rolling Stone,” was turned into “Cover of Truth Magazine.”
The best and easiest was Neil Diamond’s “Love on the rocks.” That quickly became, “Church on the rocks.” Some of the lyrics remained the same:
Gave you my heart
Gave you my soul
You left me alone here with nothing to hold
Now all I want is a smile.
First, they say they want you
How they really need you
Suddenly you find you’re out there
Walking in a storm
When they know they have you
Then they really have you
Nothing you can do or say
You’ve got to leave, just get away…
Church on the rocks
Ain’t no surprise…
Church troubles dominate the New Testament. Corinth was a mess. Our verse today from the Galatian churches is not good. Philippi had two sisters who couldn’t get along. Ephesus left their first love. Laodicea was lukewarm. Jerusalem had complaints. Fussing, and fighting, and “church on the rocks.” Even today, few things have changed. Churches start out with much excitement and hope. But in time, the momentum stalls, people complain, preachers leave, elders quit and you are left with “church on the rocks.”
Why is it this way? Why are so many experiencing these things? What can be done?
First, church on the rocks, naturally happens when we take our eyes off of Jesus. We begin to think too much of self. Pride enters. We push our opinions. We don’t want to cooperate or be subject to each other. We forget that we are family in Christ. We say things that we shouldn’t. We stop praying for each other. We get ugly with one another. This was Paul’s concern in our verse today. Instead of fighting the enemy, they turned on themselves. A long time ago, before I was around, there was a cartoon strip called, “Pogo.” One famous Pogo statement was, “We met the enemy and it’s us.” However, it shouldn’t be that way. We are not the enemy. We are on the same side.
Second, church on the rocks happens when we focus more upon our problems than we do the solutions and the unity we have among us. Like a scab, if we keep picking and picking at it, it will never heal. We have to keep teaching, preaching and being thankful for the abundant blessings we have in Christ. None of us are perfect. We need to put the radar gun down and look into the mirror more. Focus upon our walk more than the other guy’s walk. Stop being so judgmental and learn to be helpful, kind and compassionate.
Third, church on the rocks often times is a result of not having gifted leaders. Oh, there may be men in that position, but they don’t lead. They sit back and manage. They complain. They push. Rather than being among the flock, the flock is scared of them. Being a leader, whether in the home, or, in the church, means following Christ. You won’t always be the fan of everyone. You must draw lines in the sand and make tough calls. You have to have the heart to help and restore. Your goal as a leader is not to get people to love you, but to connect them to the Lord. And, when leaders are too busy with paperwork, budgets, changing light bulbs, then the sheep fall through the cracks, they scatter and the church suffers. Church on the rocks. The number of congregations today that are hurting because of this one point is unbelievable. Poor leadership is killing us. Any fresh or new idea that doesn’t look like the 1970’s is immediately cast aside. Amazingly, our cars are different than 1970’s. Our phones are different than the 1970’s. The way we shop, bank, use social media—so different than 1970’s. Yet, some leaders are content to keep things as they have always been and as the ship begins to sink, they will make no adjustments. We are not talking about changing the message. It’s the method. These Jump Starts are an example. Couldn’t do that in the 1970’s. Live streaming. Using Facebook, Twitter, videos as tools to get the message out—better ways than a sign in a yard or postcards mailed to neighbors that will be tossed in the trash. Yet, many leaders won’t even consider such things. Things worked well in 1970 and they will work well today. And the ship sinks. Church on the rocks.
Fourth, church on the rocks really comes down to each of us. Our hearts. Our faith. Our commitment. Our engagement in the kingdom. What are we doing? How hard are we trying? How much progress are we making? Blame the church. Point fingers to the teaching program. Fire the preacher and hire a new one. Yet, some things will remain the same. The reason is the problem is within us. It’s our hearts that are filled with the here and now. It’s our hearts that have lost the awe and wonder of our Lord. It’s our hearts that long for shorter services so we can get back to doing what we want to do. The alcohol industry came out decades ago with lite beer. Today, some are looking for a “lite–church.” Less doctrine and more fun. Less services and more free time. Less doing. Less teaching. Less sermons. Less Lord’s Supper. Church-lite becomes church on the rocks.
Have you noticed some of the songs we sing: “More, more about Jesus.” “Let me walk closer to Thee.” “Just a closer walk with Thee.” “Draw me nearer, nearer.” “Nearer my God to Thee.” “O to be like Thee blessed Redeemer, this is my constant longing and prayer.” “As a deer pants for the water, so my soul longs for Thee.” We sing these songs, but sigh if we must sing all the verses. We complain if the prayer is long. We notice when the preacher “goes over” the normal time length. What’s the hurry? What’s more important than God? Where do we have to rush off to? Feed ourselves? Ballgames? Secular stuff?
Church on the rocks—it’s a problem. It can be fixed, if we roll up our sleeves and put some effort into putting God back where He belongs. But until then, “You’ve just got to leave, get a way” seems to be the only thing left.
Church on the rocks, ain’t no surprise!