I’m guessing most of you have played with a Jack-in-the-Box at one time or another. You crank and crank the handle on the side while the music plays, “All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel…the monkey stopped to pull up his sock, POP goes the weasel.” And the character pops out of the box! Babies laugh and giggle and are so happy when the thing pops out of the box.
Some of you may find what I’m about to write funny and some may not. (I guess that’s the case with most things I find amusing.) I was talking with another pastor and he said he heard a pastor say one time that the pastor was tired of dealing with Jack-in-the-Box Christians. My first thought went to the fast food chain, but he was talking about the old, real, jack-in-the-box toy. He said with some people, the pastor, or people from the church, have to crank and crank and crank, and then the person, sort of like the Jack-in-the-Box “pops” up at church. And everyone is happy! Then they disappear again and we have to crank and crank and crank… Eventually our arm gets tired.
That sums up how some pastors feel about some people. I don’t feel that way, of course 😉 . It’s the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” philosophy. The problem is that when people need to be cranked, (and by this I mean the ones that don’t feel they ever get enough attention), they just don’t get the gist of being a follower of Jesus. Being a follower of Jesus is not about what we can get, but about what we can give. Are there times that a person needs a visit or a call? Sure. When we’re lying in a hospital bed, it’s great if someone from the church comes to check on us. If we never miss church and suddenly we miss three weeks in a row, it’s a shame when nobody calls to check on us. It certainly happens and it shouldn’t. But when it does, we can become upset or we can see that it doesn’t happen to others.
And when you get neglected (and if you’re in the church long enough, you will get/feel neglected at times), you can stew about it or you can do your best to notice when others who rarely miss church suddenly miss a couple of weeks. And when they do, you can call them or send them a card so they don’t feel neglected. If we only pop up when we get cranked, peoples’ arms are going to get tired and we’re going to quit popping up.