"God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him in the midst of loss, not prosperity." --John Piper

Friday, December 24, 2010

Can you say that any louder?

At one time in my dark and dismal past, I was an over-the-road truck driver. For about 8 months I worked for a company that would send me just about anywhere. I hated staying at truck stops because of the stuff that sometimes goes on there, but did one some occasions, as some states don't have enough good places to stay, and some do not let you park in rest areas for long or on ramps. Some even frown on parking at delivery points for the night, if they are too close to residential areas.

So it was Sunday, and I was at a truck stop, can't recall where or what kind, but it was in hte south somewhere. They had signs up that there was a church service in the morning, so I made plans to attend, which I did. There were maybe about 4-5 drivers in the room when the "hosts" arrived, a family of about 5. They quickly got down to business, introducing themselves and we sang a song or two. Then came the sermon. It was given by the son, who seemed to be in his early teens. I don't recall the topic or a word that was said, but I do recall the volume. It was LOUD, from start to finish. Over-the-top, in-your-face loud, hell-fire and brimstone. I remember wanting to leave, but not being sure that was the right thing to do.

All I could wonder was, what were the other drivers thinking? Were they believers already, or was this a first church experience for one or more of them.

When it was over, the family left as quickly as they had come. I think the rest just sat there in shock for a few moments, and then left without saying a word.

As I look back at it today, it saddens me more now than it did then. How does it make you feel?


Gregg said...

From your description it did not sound like a biblical New Testament service that would honor Christ.

However, God's sovereign will was done there that day. Hearts were either softened and overcame by the Spirit of God or they were hardened in accordance with Gods' sovereign plan and purpose of which we cannot know nor find out.

Kansas Bob said...

Not sure how it makes me feel but it does remind me of how some religious folks see church as a show. My insightful wife once commented as we were leaving a church that she felt that she had been to a vaudeville show. Sadly some are not as insightful as my wife.

speculator said...

How does it make me feel?

Well- it reminds me of a self-proclaimed street preacher in the city where I live and work.
He bellows random Bible verses and hollers judgments at pedestrians while they pass. It makes innumerable honest, well-meaning people bristle. Some of my neighbors think this is what all Christians are like: arrogant and inconsiderate. It's embarrassing.

So one day, I managed to interrupt this hollering guy- who turns out to be a pastor! In a very combative way, he went right into testing me- to see if I'm *really* a Christian. Once he saw that I knew all the verses- and then some- he absorbed my comments that the apostles and indeed Jesus himself- spoke to- and with- people in ways they could understand, no matter who they were.
Too many Christian leaders are incapable of thinking like those they are trying to serve. I think what you experienced were people so self-absorbed that they were essentially preaching to themselves.
Christians are actually very public figures, whether truck-drivers, teachers, or coal miners. Our lives and how we express them are perceived as parables.

Spherical said...

@ Gregg: I agree completely, but it does make me sad. As I look back at that event at a time in my life when things were topsy-turvy, I am thankful that it did not push me farther away.

@ Bob: I often think that what I have witnessed is more of a show than a God-honoring, Christ exaulting service.

@ Spectacular: How awesome that you were able to engage him. I love the statement, "Too many Christian leaders are incapable of thinking like those they are trying to serve." So often preachers get into ministry at a young age, and then never have the life experience to relate to those they minister to.

Spherical said...

Sorry, @ Speculator, not Spectacular! Opps!

speculator said...

I like both your comments, as I'd rather speculate than be a spectacle!

A little further, when you think about the topic you raised here, Christ really taught the disciples- and us, too- about addressing those around us very directly and with humble yet affirmative and respectful candor.
So glad to have found your blog!