I had a rare opportunity last week. Since I wasn’t preaching or leading worship last Sunday, Sept. 2nd, I had the chance to relax on Saturday morning after making our traditional hearty breakfast for my girls (the girls meaning my wife Karen and our two golden retrievers — Yes, they get an egg, too, and bacon.), I watched a little TV. The show was “How It’s Made.” Normally, I’ll catch a little bit of it after I’m done at church on Sunday before I take a sinker in my recliner. Sunday starts really early, sometimes earlier than even I planned.
What struck me with several of the items being made (pool tables, cymbals and oboe reeds) is how labor intensive they are. Who knew? All too often we tend to think the things we buy magically come together. We seldom take into account all the work required and a battery of skilled laborers that combine to make that product. No one person could do it all themselves. It takes many who in every case hone their skills with years of dedicated work which adds to the quality of the end product. We buy the finished product, large or small, and don’t have a clue.
I mention this because it has a very real application to what needs to be recognized in the work of the church on several levels. Allow me to elaborate.
First, no one person can do it all. I saw how many functions or stages, skilled craftsmen in ever increasing steps of creating the final result were required. In the church, it is virtually impossible for the pastor or the office manager, or the additional ministerial offices of the congregation to do all that is necessary. Each have their areas of expertise and responsibility, but even combined they are horribly insufficient to accomplish the work necessary. It takes an army of people (each doing their LEVEL BEST) committed to a finished product of quality.
That brings me to my second observation. There can be no shortcuts. To short change a product by using a cheaper, faster, simpler or more convenient approach to its construction gets a product made alright, but at the cost of genuine quality that really does what was designed as its goal. The church as the individual congregation is no different. Oh, we can do things that will allow us enough to get by, but is that what God expects from us in His finished product — enough to get by? Remember, our task is to proclaim the good news of salvation in Christ making disciples. As messages go, they don’t get better than that one. As a result, our delivery of that message, to all ages, must be nothing short of our best. Personally, I think our willingness to just “get by” stems from a lack of faith and trust that God will provide. He always has.
Finally, when it comes to “How It’s Made”, I seemed to notice that what they produce is being made by organizations that have a long range plan. They plan on making a product, their product, well into the future. They did a lot of work and planning to reach this point and they are not going to stop now as they step into the future. Now, remember, we’re talking pool tables, cymbals and oboe reeds.
Yet. compared to God’s long range planning, they pale in comparison. God’s planning in the Old Testament with the Hebrews building them into a nation from which Messiah would come took thousands, literally thousands of years. That’s some serious planning. Nor should we be blind or ignorant of the last two thousand years of planning on God’s part to create and maintain the Church. Oh, there are some bad times during both of those periods, as there will be struggles in the future for us as the church. However, let me be perfectly clear with this key point. Every time, EVERY TIME, there are problems, it was because we thought we could do a better job than God. We so like our shortcuts.
Our Lord has laid an awesome responsibility on us. We are to help share His product, salvation in Jesus Christ, to save the world. What we need to do is trust in His plan by doing what He calls on us to do and get out of His way to accomplish that task. God will see us through. He always has.
And those are my thoughts. God bless.
Pastor Lee R. Harder