I NEED A PICK-ME-UP
Most people don’t need convinced that getting a massage is awesome. It’s uber-awesome, actually.
I have a friend who schedules a weekly massage. It is his way of managing the stress and anxiety in his life. One hour a week gives him the therapy he needs to cope with the remainder of the week. This one hour quickly becomes a highlight for him. He looks forward to it, talks about it, tries to convince others to adopt his routine, and relies heavily upon its cathartic benefits. It’s what makes the rest of his life bearable.
Tragically, I know of others who speak like this about church.
They go to church each Sunday trying to find just enough care and spiritual nourishment to last them the week. Whatever stress and struggles they are dealing with melts away during what they consider their hour-long therapy session. A little bit of teaching, a little bit of Jesus, a little bit of singing, maybe a handshake or two, and it fills them just enough to last the next six days.
I don’t think God intended us to treat church like a Jesus massage club. Church isn’t a thing that’s designed to make the rest of our lives bearable.
Church isn’t a place, it’s a people. That might be a cliché phrase, but it doesn’t make it any less true. When church is just a place, a building, instead of the people of God it’s only natural that it gets treated like a club. However, I don’t think God intended us to treat church like a Jesus massage club where we come for an hour to get a little “pick-me-up” to keep us going.
WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR?
There’s a famous story in the bible about a crowd of 5,000 plus people who ate to their fill off of only five loaves of bread and two little fish. Jesus multiplied this miniscule amount of food into a feast for an entire hillside of people. Jesus feeding the 5,000 is a well-known story, but what’s not so well-known is what happens next. What’s the rest of that story? What happens to these 5,000 souls the following day?
No matter what we eat the day before we always wake up hungry the next morning, right? This crowd was no different. They were hungry for breakfast and Jesus wasn’t anywhere to be found so they went looking for him. When they found him they didn’t even need to ask, Jesus knew what they were looking for. They didn’t want Jesus, they wanted more bread.
Jesus didn’t give them what they wanted, he wanted to give them what they needed. There is a huge difference here. (John chapter 6 tells the entire story.) When the crowd doesn’t get what they want they get frustrated, annoyed, and they leave. The crowd goes from 5,000 plus down to 12. Ouch. This crowd was acting like a Jesus massage club. They wanted what was going to make them happy and feel better, but nothing more. Just a little “pick-me-up” was all they wanted. They were looking for a bread King, not the King of Kings, and they went away sad.
There is one way to know if you treat church like a Jesus massage club.
You will know your view of Christianity is nothing more than massage club by the way you react when you don’t get massaged.
When you don’t get what you want, when the church doesn’t meet your needs, when you don’t feel better about yourself, how do you react? How do you respond? Do you act like this crowd in John 6 and reject what Jesus is really offering, himself, and go elsewhere looking for more stale bread?
Here is the point: the church isn’t a place where people line up once a week to get their shoulders rubbed in order to help each deal with our stressful lives. The church is a people who daily point each other to the One who will carry all of our burdens and sins on his shoulders because no massage can ever replace the life he can give. A massage is temporary fix, just like the bread the crowd ate on the hillside. What Jesus offers, and what the church teaches and proclaims and points to, is a permanent, lasting, and compelling remedy—Jesus himself.
FUEL FOR THOUGHT…
Why are we doing what we’re doing? Why are we doing it the way we’re doing it?