Jesus’ Real Friends
Lesson I Learned From My 1957 Chevy
I remember what it was like back in my teen years before I owned a car. I was a young man who received few phone calls and had few friends. Then I bought a 1957 Chevrolet, two-door, post (some will know what that means). Things really began to change for me for me after that! When I bought the car, I was suddenly receiving many phone calls and making many friends—even girlfriends!
At school, these new friends would approach me with ideas and plans for the weekends. I remember riding around on Sunday afternoons with my “friends” packed in my 57 Chevy. I started thinking that I was one of the most popular guys in school. However, for some reason, my “friends” never had money for gas or flat tire repairs. But as time moved on and my classmates started getting their own cars, something strange began to happened, my popularity began to wane.
I began to realize that much of my popularity was due to what others wanted from me. I learned the lesson that when you have something others might want or need, you will have all kinds of attention, “ask those who have won the lottery” but these people paying you this attention are not truly committed friends.
Sadly, the church today reminds me of how I was during my teen years. The church wants to attract people by offering them programs that they like—programs that include worldly entertainment, messages that feed self-fulfillments, coarse language, sensually-dressed entertainers, unscriptural, irreverent music that appeals to the flesh, etc.
You see, the church today has its own 1957 Chevy, and it’s attracting many “friends” or ride-alongs. It is sad that pastors and other leaders are so naïve to believe that these types of attractions have any lasting value for the church or for the kingdom of God. As soon as another church begins to offer more thrilling entertainment, these ride-alongs will jump ship. Then in order to keep these people coming, the church will need to keep moving toward more worldly and fleshly programs. I liken it to drug addiction: the addict isn’t satisfied with last week’s fix; he needs more. So the church chases after the unsaved with the promise of giving them what they want if they keep coming to their church.
Who’s feeding this insanity? Behind it all is a host of church growth gurus who have developed programs, messages, and advice (for a price, of course) to pastors who are struggling with dwindling attendance. I wonder— what kind of advice would they have given Jesus when His disciples went away and walked no more with Him (John 6:66)? Would they have rebuked John the Baptist when he stated, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30)? What would they have told the apostle Paul when he stated that all men had forsaken him (II Timothy 4:16)? Would they say that the apostle John had made a grave mistake that resulted in his exile to the Isle of Patmos?
It is likely that if these people had been around in the days of the apostles, and if they had been influential, we would not have Paul’s prison epistles, Peter’s letters warning about apostates in the church, or his instruction in persevering through fiery trials, or the book of James with its lessons on testing and patience.
It is a sad day when the church is abandoning the truth for popularity! I know it’s hard for pastors and church leaders to see people leaving for the glare of worldly entertainment and for churches who make people feel good. But let me say this to pastors, church leaders, members, and those seeking a church fellowship, one day we will stand before the Lord and give an account for our lives and ministry. Jesus’ evaluation won’t be on the basis of how popular we were or if we made people feel good. We will be judged on how lived and ministered in accordance with God’s Truth, God’s Word!!
Dear church leaders, if you want to see whether or not the believers in your congregation are really committed to Christ, try getting rid of that 57 Chevy, and you will see who Christ’s friends really are.
Values vs. Laws
I was recently traveling along a road through one of our communities. I saw a sign that read "Plainfield, a community of values." At first that sounded good, but after awhile that statement caused me to think and ask a question. Who's values? Everyone has values. Values are not necessarily moral or immoral, nor do values have to be lawful or unlawful. Actually, once you state that a value is right or wrong, it ceases to be a value and becomes a moral.
If we stop to think about it, everyone has values, for example, Mother Teresa had values, so did Ted Kaczynski, the uni-bomber. The terrorists that flew planes into the towers in New York had values, as did the firefighters who rushed in to save those that were put in danger by the values of the terrorists. The question I still find myself asking is this: who's values are they talking about? It would be irrational to think that everyone in the community has the same values.
I know that the word "values" is used because it is accepted as politically correct, and is inoffensive because values are deemed important no matter who's they are. The truth is that values have no substance except in the mind of those who happen to hold those values.
Another question. Are values to be protected? It would be impossible to protect everyone's values because there are so many that obviously contradict each other. The question then would be: who's values are we to protect, and who's are we to condemn?
Here is a statement that might attract new businesses, customers, individuals, and families. "We are a community of laws." It might also discourage those we don't want in our community."A community of values." is a non-intelligible, non-descript, inoffensive, and safe statement to make. But after all we are interested in what sounds good no matter how ridiculous it is.