God's Chosen People
Tony R. Nester
Why do people come to church? Here are some of the more common answers people give when asked question:
• "This is my church."
• "I like the people, or the programs, or the pastor."
• "I feel better after church."
• "It helps me feel closer to God."
There's nothing wrong with any of these answers but there's something missing. They touch on part of why church matters but they're off target -- like darts that hit the dartboard but miss the bull's-eye. What throws each of these answers off the mark is that they're all about what we like and how we feel. These motives for church attendance reveal that we view church as a matter of personal choice.
Here in The United States we put a high value on choice. "It's my time ... it's my decision ...it's my money ...It's my life ... it's my choice." These are our slogans.
I'm as fond of choice as any of one of you might be. The other night Evelyn and I went out for a dinner at a restaurant in Waterloo. One of my pet peeves about restaurants is that they want to tell you where to sit. Sure enough the hostess led us to a table and without asking if we approved directed us to sit there. I didn't like it and said, "Let's find another table," and we did. On more than one occasion after such treatment I've told Evelyn to pick up her plates and utensils and move with me to a table more to my liking.
One of the reasons why I like working on my computer is that I can customize it to my liking -- my colors, my desktop, my fonts. I like choice.
It's natural, then, that we treat church in the same way. It's our choice to go or not go, to serve or not serve, to give or not give.
But this entire way of thinking falls apart when we listen to Jesus. Jesus wasn't selling a product and he didn't appeal to a consumer mentality with our emphasis on choice.
Jesus turns this entire approach upside down. Here's what it says in John 15:16: "You didn't ...
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