I’m reading through Rubel Shelly’s latest book I Knew Jesus Before He Was a Christian (so far, so good) right now. One of the themes the author addresses is the ways in which Christians have poorly represented Jesus.
In a passing comment, Shelly observes the ridiculous complaining of some Christians. He writes, “To say the least, I have received much more caustic complaints from church members over a half-hour change in service times than over ethnic groups without the Gospels in their own language or people being homeless in our society” (p. 53). I had to laugh when I read this because I know exactly what he is talking about and so does every other preacher/pastor.
Actually, I have encountered some church members who have voiced concerns about being more evangelistic to their neighbors, getting more involved ministry to the youth, helping feed the hungry, etc… Those are the church members who are involved in the ministry of the church and they just seem to be expressing frustration because they want to do better with the calling God has given them. These people help make congregational ministry exciting.
Then there are those other church members, the ones which Shelly is referring to. They complain and they wine. Sometimes (more often than some might realize) they even try to manipulate by making some threat, such as threatening to find a different church, if their complaint is not immediately addressed. Just last week I a friend of mine was telling me about someone complaining because of their church sings too many hymns during the one-hour worship.
To be brutally honest, when I encounter such complainers, especially those resorting to manipulation, I just want to scream as I scroll my eyes towards the door. Now, even if I could, I would not show anyone the door.
However, I do wonder how any Christian can contemplate the passion of Jesus and yet complain and manipulate. If we could see Jesus face to face, would we really complain about a worship service going to long? If we were able to touch the wounds on Jesus’ body like Thomas did (Jn 20:25-27), would we really threaten to leave if we don’t get our way? If we stood before Jesus with his sharp, double-edged sword coming out of his mouth (Rev 1:16) who comes to judge his church (Rev 22:12), would we really…?