Last night I heard a United Methodist Bishop preach about cruise ships verses small boats like the disciples would have been in. What I heard was how we need to get off the big safe ‘cruise ship’ we are traveling on and instead get into small boats that run the risk of sinking. I’m being very vulnerable in this blog today, more so than usual. As a matter of fact, I probably run the risk of sinking.
The irony of her message is that she is giving it here at the plush Opryland Hotel, with waterfalls, dancing fountains, and foliage all contained in a behemoth indoor controlled environment. We are all staying here. She is talking to a group of people who, for the most part, are used to going to these types of places for ‘meetings’. I am out of place and uncomfortable. I’m not out of place at a big glitzy hotel. My wife Diane used to sell Partylite candles and we have stayed in one of the towers at the Atlantis in the Bahamas, the Hilton at Oahu in Hawaii, and in Aruba, all at the expense of Partylite thanks to Diane selling enough candles. We’ve been on two cruise ships on 8 day and 10 day cruises for our 20th and 25th anniversary. No, I am used to luxurious places. I mean out of place and uncomfortable around (and Jesus – forgive me of my judging) a bunch of people here at the expense of the people of my church. And, no doubt, it’s the same people who attend meeting after meeting, year after year, over and over, who perhaps are too comfortable with it – – Who see nothing wrong with it.
When I think about how many water wells could have been dug in or how many mosquito nets could have been sent to Africa it almost literally makes me ill . I felt like the first thing we should have done as a church last night was repent for meeting here. John Wesley would turn over in his grave. What bothers me most is that this is just ‘business as usual’. I don’t ever want to get sucked into the place where I see nothing wrong with it, to get desensitized to the point that it becomes acceptable. It’s not acceptable.
And for all you who are cheering and agreeing, let’s bring today’s blog home. And yes, I mean to a close, but also to your home and my home. How many of us live lifestyles way beyond what we need to live? How many of us always need to get the latest iPhone, bigger and more modern televisions, newer computers and iPads? How many of us spend way, way too much money routinely eating out at places that people used to go to just for celebrations and special occasions? And like many of the Christians here at the Opryland this weekend, we see nothing wrong with it. If you’ll excuse me, I have a meeting to go to with a bunch of other Jesus followers.