I know Halloween is still a month away but my kids are excited. Who could blame them? They dress up in a costume of their favorite super hero or imaginary character and get free candy from everyone they see. I remember that feeling, I loved it. I kind of wish adults could still go trick or treating.
Come to think of it, I believe I see many people of all ages doing this throughout the year.
Well, mostly on Sundays.
I am ashamed to say that many people approach God this way…Put on a mask, knock on a door and ask for treats.
Ok, so the masks are figurative but let’s not pretend that we don’t put on church faces sometimes. Sure the knock on the door is more like praying and/or promising to do better. And the asking for treats is more along the lines of “bless me Lord” but I think it’s a painfully accurate description.
Many of us have reduced a beautiful relationship with an indescribable creator to a vending machine religion. You know why many of us do that. First, I’d say it’s human nature, we are selfish and it shows. Second, it’s easier to hope that God is a jolly old man handing out goodies while saying “don’t you look cute.” Lastly, and most damning to the whole Christian movement is many so called “leaders” have institutionalized the idea.
Ever hear a preacher say something like this…
“God is about to bless you if you just…”
“Get ready, get ready, God is about to pour out provision like you’ve never seen.”
“Hold on, pray like you mean it and He will drop the right person, job, opportunity right in your lap.” Usually this is followed by people falling over themselves to respond.
Ever hear a TV evangelist promise…
“Send in $77 and God will return it tenfold!”
“Plant a seed of faith and God will honor it with material rewards!”
“If you help my ministry God will bless you more than you can imagine!”
How about the opposite side of the same coin…
“If you don’t pay your tithes, God will let your dishwasher break.”
“If you don’t support this ministry then you won’t be in God’s will.”
“If you don’t send Tom a check for a hundred dollars immediately something bad will happen to you.”
Ok I was just seeing if you were paying attention, but you get my point. We have to move past this trick or treat mentality and on to whom God really is and who He wants us to be.
Sure God is a good God who loves us tremendously, blesses us, provides for us and in many ways protects us but this can’t be our whole understanding of who He is.
So it’s the time of year when we put on masks, knock on doors and ask for treats. But be careful this doesn’t describe your relationship with God.
Modern Christianity is a mess, it’s usually a mix of moral commentary and business practices. However the way of Jesus is diametrically opposed to that.
The way of Christ is not popular, easy or widely pursued.
Because it gives instead of takes, yields instead of demands and loves before it lectures.
It doesn’t boast about its abilities, it quietly serves others. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs but forgives and corrects. It isn’t self-seeking or arrogant, it looks to defend the weak, speak for those who have no voice and rescue those who’ve lost their way.
It isn’t about “getting a blessing”, “finding your personal destiny”, being “healthy and wealthy” or trying to see how many people you can get to follow you. It has very little to do with church and nothing to do with trick or treat.
It is giving, encouraging, loving, forgiving, reaching and striving to serve as many as you can.
It is absolutely selfless… and that’s why many of us would rather choose a mask, knock on some doors and ask for treats.
Written by Tom Wise © Finding Wonder 2013