Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fresh Out

Unfortunately I had to put gas in my truck the week of the great fuel crunch. I was at a pump that only had regular in it. The mid-grade and premium selections were covered. That was fine with me since the regular was $4.99 per gallon. I looked across the street at the sign in front of another station, which indicated they had premium for $3.85 per gallon.

For just a moment I was tempted to stop pumping gas and change to the other station. However, as I looked closer, I realized the all of the nozzles at other station were covered. They might have been advertising $3.85 premium grade gasoline, but they really had none.

This reminded me of something that happened to a pastor friend of mine. He lives to eat at Zaxby’s. For those of you who have never eaten there, they have the best chicken strips and wings on the planet. In fact, chicken is all they sell. You can get chicken wings, grilled chicken salad, chicken strips, and chicken sandwiches, but you won’t find a burger in the place.

Anyway, my friend goes into the local Zaxby’s and places his order. The girl behind the counter tells him that they are out of chicken. He is, of course, quite surprised and downright indignant. “You mean all you sell is chicken and you’re out of it?” he replied.

As I listened to his story he went on to say that if all you do is sell chicken, you should be able to stock up on it so that you never run out. He also took it a step further by saying the local church is no better. Many churches have crosses on the steeple, stained glass that depicts scenes from the life of Christ, Bible references or cute sayings on our signs out front, but when someone comes inside, in desperate need of a savior we are unable to point the way. We point them to our programs, our ministries, our worship service, our coffee pot, or our information desk, but what we are really saying is “Jesus? We ran out of that a long time ago. Would you like some information on our Sunday School classes?"
I realize that all of the things I named above can all be used by God to lead people who thirst for righteousness to the Living Water. However, my point is, when we begin to replace personal relationships with those who need Christ, with programs and information desks we are no better than a gas station with no gas, or a Zaxby’s with no chicken.

I attended the State Evangelism Conference in Rock Hill this past February. As I left one of the sessions, I noticed a woman at the church’s information desk. She was definitely not part of the conference. She was not well dressed, and she had tears in her eyes. I walked by, assuming the folks at the desk were helping her.

I went outside to my truck to make a call. I finished my call and as I was returning to the church, I saw her in the breezeway. She was still crying. Preachers of all shapes and sizes were filing out past her. Nobody stopped.

I knew that God was speaking to me, so I went up to her and asked if I could help. She said the people at the desk told her to go to a certain building on the church campus, but that she could not find it. I told her that I did not know where it was, but asked if I could help. She cried even more. She poured her heart out to me.

Here was a bunch of pastors and church staff people gathered together to talk and learn about evangelizing our state, but we completely missed one who was desperate for Jesus, even though she just walked right in the front door. What message got sent to her that day? “We have plenty of buildings, and a great information desk, but we are fresh out of Jesus.”

What are you doing to show the love of Christ to a world in need of a savior?
Write this to Sardis, to the Angel of the church. The One holding the Seven Spirits of God in one hand, a firm grip on the Seven Stars with the other, speaks: "I see right through your work. You have a reputation for vigor and zest, but you're dead, stone-dead. "Up on your feet! Take a deep breath! Maybe there's life in you yet. But I wouldn't know it by looking at your busywork; nothing of God's work has been completed. Your condition is desperate. Think of the gift you once had in your hands, the Message you heard with your ears—grasp it again and turn back to God. (Revelation 3:1-3 The Message)

1 comment:

Pastor Phillip Howle said...

Sad commentary Stacy, but I fear you are dead on. Good writing, Phillip