My love-hate relationship with Walmart started after a couple of “bad experiences.” Irritable employees, obnoxious stock carts blocking the aisles, and a failure to meet what I thought they should do for their customers led me to constantly be frustrated when I endeavored to shop! Each time I went it was almost as though I went looking for the irritants that just didn’t meet my standard for a pleasant shopping experience. Guess what? When I went looking for those things, I always found them! I’d point the accusing finger and say,
“See?!!! There they are doing it again!!!”
All this eventually caused me to leave Walmart for good and find another grocery store where I could shop and love it!
My grocery shopping experience/expectations can be a good illustration for our churches, too. We get a little irritated about something – at a person who is less than what we think they should be, or at the fact that something isn’t done the way we think it should be, or at something we simple hear about. Every week when we go to church, we can be on the lookout for it, as I was at Walmart. When we see it AGAIN, we point a finger and nod about how right we are at being upset. Finally we get our fill…so we leave and find another church.
The problem is that church isn’t the grocery store. It is the institution God loves and that Christ died for. It’s not meant to fill our wants and preferences, but to give us the good Food of the Word of God. That is to be what’s on our “shopping list – what we’re looking and longing for!” Everything else that is bothersome or irritating must be handled with the Spirit of God – lovingly, kindly, with the grace that we extend because we are His children and this is His church . We’re not there to look for how often we can find the reminders of imperfection and sinful people, but we must attend with a whole different shopping list! How about if we went looking for:
- The opportunity to praise God through song and worship!
- New people we can welcome!
- How God wants to speak to me today!
- How God wants to use me today!
- How God is answering prayer!
- Someone I can take to the Throne of Grace!
- The Truth God wants to teach me.
We will find what we are looking to see! How about each of us (myself included!) changed our shopping list when we go to church? We’d go home with a cart full of blessings instead of a heart filled with frustration!
Guess what? My current grocery store isn’t perfect either, but I’m choosing to stay and shop with a grateful heart.
What do you need to be more gracious towards at your church? Ask the Lord to give you a gracious heart to worship and serve Him at the place where the Truth is preached.