I was on a road trip about a year ago and Elijah needed to use the bathroom. There was a gas station that said “clean restrooms,” so we pulled in.
But the restrooms were filthy. Pee and trash everywhere. It was disgusting. Elijah looked at me and said, “why does it say clean restrooms when these aren’t clean?” I said, “I guess they lied to us.”
Not too long after this, Elijah and I were in a nice hotel and we went into the restroom and it was super clean. He said to me, “Daddy, does this restroom have a sign that says it has clean restrooms?” It didn’t. Then he responded, “Why do some restrooms say they’re clean and they’re not, and then other restrooms are clean and they don’t say that they are?”
I don’t know.
And I also don’t know why this same dynamic continually plays itself out in the Church either.
The Church is fond of saying that the world offers everything but has nothing. And that’s true. But from my experience, the Church offers everything but doesn’t know how to really advertise it. Either corporately or individually.
People come into our worship experiences and hear us say Jesus is great, but then they see us celebrate Him with mediocrity.
People look at our lives and hear us say we’re Christians, but then they see very little difference in us that would compel them to want the supposed hope and joy that we have.
I’m tired of the world selling their product so well when their product can’t do anything for anybody. But I’m equally tired of the Church having something that can do everything for everybody but we make it look like it can’t do anything for anybody.
I believe the most important message in the world deserves the best presentation. That’s why I’m so adamant about the Church being known for excellence. And that’s why I’m also so adamant about people living up to their full potential in Christ. It’s not that we’re trying to impress people with how great we are. It’s that we’re trying to impress into people how great Jesus is.
Some people might respond by saying that Jesus doesn’t need us to make Him look good. In fact, by presenting the gospel with excellence, we’re taking away from it. We’re stealing glory from God. Making people love the messenger rather than the message.
They probably should have told that to Moses when he was making an ornate Tabernacle.
To Paul when he presented the gospel with skill at Athens.
And to Apollos who was a skilled orator and was used by God powerfully.
Of course Jesus doesn’t need us to make Him look good. But I also don’t think He wants us to make Him look bad either. Or neglect to reflect how great He is.
We’ve got the greatest message in the world.
Let’s not make it harder than it has to be for people to realize how great it is.