At The Church Buffet – 1 Thessalonians 5:19

1 Thessalonians 5:19 – Do not quench the Spirit.

One of my weaknesses is the buffet. I have to admit that when I go to a place that is all you can eat I lose control. I justify my behavior and overstuffed tummy with the idea that I had to get my money’s worth. Sometimes buffet food isn’t that good either. But the worse part about the buffet is that I don’t eat a balanced meal. I will fill my plate with all kinds of meats and then go to desert bar when I’m nearly full.

And I’m not the only one. Look and see how few people there are at the salad bar. Few people are going out of there way to get to some carrot or celery sticks. Those that do often time drown it in a sea of ranch dressing. We don’t eat well at buffets.

So I try to avoid going to the buffet.

Sometimes we look at church as being a big buffet. We come to church with our plates and we heap on the things we like and avoid the things we don’t like. The problem is we get so much of the fun things and and neglect the areas of our life that really need attention and require a bit of work. We become spiritually malnourished. We only allow Jesus to be Lord of some areas of our life and keep others back from him.

Some of us even come to the buffet with our plates already full. There is little room left for Jesus on our plate anyway. The remaining space is filled with the gravy of church: the fattening stuff that gives flavor to our lives but doesn’t promote spiritual growth or obligation to God. Our lives are filled with so much activity. There are school events, job related activities, friends, hobbies, and even yard work that takes precedence over our involvement at church.

Francis Chan wrote in his book, “The Forgotten God”, that entertainment has become the model for church. “…and while it alleviated some of our boredom for a couple of hours of a week, it filled our churches with self-focused consumers rather than self-sacrificing servants attuned to the Holy Spirit.” In essence, we have neglected Paul’s admonishment not to quench the fire of the Holy Spirit.

I am one of those persons who sees God’s hand in just about everything. I can not go to the buffet and pick and choose. I want a nutritious, well-rounded meal of God in my diet. I want to see what God can do with every aspect of my life.

Don’t get me wrong. This can be very painful at times. There are areas that we all have that we hide from God. We don’t do things “the Jesus Way” in every aspect of our lives. But I want to open all my life up to him. I want to allow him to meddle in every thing I do.

The hardest prayer I have ever prayed was “God, please feel free to interrupt my day.” The reason is that when God gets involved in your day you will find your whole schedule change. You will see areas of your life exposed. You will experience more needy people. You will be so busy your head spins… and there is not “me time” when you ask God to interrupt your day. No it’s “us time” from now on. But this is the prayer I need to pray daily.

One of the things that I have had to do since being on my weight loss journey is to avoid buffets. I have little control, no matter how hard I mentally prepare. I eat too much and I make poor choices. It doesn’t do well for me to go to such a place.

The church is not a buffet. Yes, there are a lot of activities, study opportunities, fellowship events, and missions and service opportunities. They are provided for you to get involved with so that you can get a well-rounded diet of God’s spirit so that you will grow to be the man or woman that God has called you to be.

I believe that a person who genuinely wants to grow spiritually should start with a prayer asking God to lead them to the right activities and studies to get involved in. Not just the stuff they are interested in.

I once talked with a man who was so interested in Revelation and the end times that was all that he wanted to study. After a lengthy discussion I asked him what the point of Revelation really was. He gave me a lot of interesting answers. I told him that Eschatology, the study of last things, can be summarized into two words; Be Ready. I looked him in the eye and and ask him if he was ready, really ready. John concluded the book of Revelation with the word, “maranatha”, which means “come quickly”. John was ready on the spot for the end times to come. This man was not.

Prayer Thought: Dear Heavenly Father, God who sits on the throne of heaven. You are worthy to receive glory, honor, power, praise, and all of my love. I am ashamed that I have set at the buffet of your table and only taken those things that which made me a fat baby in the faith. Teach me YOUR ways, my God. Help me to learn so that I too will be ready for whatever comes my way. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for your love. Thank you for providing for me daily. Hep me to live what I learn from your word and your spirit. In Christ’s name, Amen.

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