A few years back, my daughters were about to get their drivers’ licenses. Such a prospect strikes fear in just about any parent, because at that point moms and dads move into a new stage of worry. We worry about if our child has been adequately prepared to take on this new level of responsibility. We worry if their intrinsic sense of direction is capable of bringing them home when their GPS fails them. We worry about other drivers, who seem to be too aggressive around our fledgling drivers. We worry about…well, let it suffice to say, we just worry.
But, over a two-year period, it was time for the babies to start wandering from the nest, hopefully in something that’s safe. So that got me to scouring the used-car ads. Trying to be a thrifty and frugal person with money now (it’s about time), when I look to buy or trade, I usually prefer to get something pre-owned. That, however, leads to the possibility of buying someone else’s troubles. With me, it’s more likely to be a given rather than a possibility, though. For whatever reason, I still think you should be able to get a decent car for under $2K, even if it is approaching the “Million-Mile Club.” Of course, I wouldn’t buy one like that for my children, but maybe for me, so that I could afford to get something newer and more reliable for them.
It was about this time that I called about a car that sounded great, and for a pretty decent price—fairly low miles, new tires, no body damage, nice interior and a good-running engine. So what was the problem? Nothing, according to the ad. It was only after I called the fellow that I found out that one problem; it didn’t have a transmission! Now call me silly, but that seems to be a significant bit of information that was left out. But the seller still tried to sell me the car based on all of the other things, like he cleans the inside with Armor-all each month to kept the leather from splitting. I’m sure it is nice and shiny sitting there in his driveway, but still, it’s unable to move unless you push it!
I am beginning to think that it is just human nature to perpetuate the trivial rather than the central, especially if we haven’t grasped what’s really important. I also wonder if maybe that’s a systemic problem among a large percentage of church people and many churches, too. Too often, when we try to go out and tell the Good News, it becomes more about what goes on in our church, rather than about Jesus. Seekers of Jesus aren’t hungering for Bazaars and committee meetings, they hunger and thirst for Jesus.
The Evangelist named John alludes to a similar situation in his gospel. In the twelfth chapter of John we can find these verses:
20 Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem to attend the Passover 21 paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” 22 Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus
The Greeks in this passage came searching for Jesus. They weren’t looking for theories or postulations. They weren’t at all interested in the “fan club” meeting, the Jesus T-shirts, or “I [HEART] Jesus” coffee mugs. They were looking for the real McCoy—they wanted Jesus.
Now, I’m not down on church programs and events, or on our “feel good” expressions of faith. All of these have their place. I just hope that we make sure that, in the midst of all the hoopla, we don’t forget that what the world is really seeking.
As we begin another new year, maybe it’s time to begin to resolve to become less enamored with all the stuff about Jesus and more excited about his essence and his presence. After all, Jesus never trivialized us.