Some people can’t stay away from church.
After calling on church to be the thing that backs down in peoples’ lives (but not always), let’s acknowledge the dog that’s not barking in that assertion: our oppressive time commitments result from opportunities for achievement. And not everybody is swimming in those opportunities.
There are people in church for whom this is the best thing going. Maybe they work fewer hours. Maybe they’re not taking honors classes. Maybe they didn’t make the track team or the show choir. Maybe they’re bored.
I’m sure lots of people turned away from Jesus because they had better things to do–important things, like burying their dead.The ones who took up his invitation were called by God and irresistibly drawn. And their fishing business wasn’t exactly killing.
The gospel Jesus proclaimed promises sight to the blind, food for the hungry, and freedom for the captive. It’s a message of God’s overturning of the conventions of opportunity and achievement in favor of the castoffs and the bored. Jesus’ message has always been a tough sell for those already winning at life (the demise of Christendom is providing the North American church with a huge opportunity to rediscover this).
There are students I meet with each week who don’t need texts or emails of Facebook posts reminding them what time to come. They’re at the church early, and if I’m not there I hear from them. They have space and a time for it because they don’t have hours or A.P. homework, tutoring, or soccer practice. For many that’s not a reflection of priorities but of opportunities.
Praise God for an abundance of opportunities and the remarkable achievements wrested from them. Also, praise God for the abundance of time in opportunity’s absence. Because that absence is an opening for the church to contribute value.