Leaders and pastors, have you ever heard this?: “When are we going to get the deep teaching here? When am I going to get some meat?” And after hearing that question several dozen times as a pastor, I snapped one night and came unglued when someone asked me that after a church service. I responded, “Tell me who you think the deepest teacher who ever lived was. Throughout history, who knew exactly what human beings needed to grow spiritually and gave them the best Grade A meat on the planet?” It was a rhetorical question. “I guess it would be Jesus,” he replied. “And what’s the longest recorded sermon we have by him?” The sermon on the mount?” he answered. “Yep. So if Jesus is going to give us the meat, here it comes! Brace yourselves for the key to the universe, the filet mignon! But interestingly, he doesn’t give us some exegetical unpacking of the tabernacles or how the feasts of Israel foreshadow the end-times. Instead, what did he talk about for three chapters?—Here’s how you love each other, here’s how you love God. Learn to forgive, learn to walk humbly, serve each other. Just treat others the way you want to be treated. Don’t try to be a big shot in front of God, He sees it all. Do your prayers in secret. And on and on and on. “So please tell me what’s deep in that and I’ll do it. Every week. And what’s more, Jesus ends his sermon by saying, ‘If you practice these things, you’ll be like a guy that built his house on a rock. Nothing will bring it down.’” That was the end of that conversation. Fact is: We can’t get around this love-thing…and we can’t get around relationships because what else are you going to love? It just doesn’t get any deeper than us actually practicing the thing that Jesus asked us to do: “This is my commandment: love one another.” One day the disciples all went to get lunch and when they came back to Jesus they wondered if he’d already gotten a corn beef sandwich somewhere. But Jesus said, “My meat is to do the will of Him who sent me.” He had just spent time talking with a woman who had been married five times, was currently shacking up with a guy, and what’s more, was a Samaritan—the spiritual and racial untouchables of the Jews. He took the time to explain to her why her life was spiraling out of control…and that God, His Father, was looking for her and longing for her to draw near to Him in real worship. I loved studying and talking about the prophetic feasts of Israel or the acrostic poetry of the Psalms or the meaning of the scarlet beast…that’s a Christian introvert’s dream. But if it doesn’t inspire a compassion for others, a broken heart for the lost, I’m just on a theological head trip. As I understand it, when Jesus returns He’s not going to ask me if I taught on supralapsarianism or my thoughts on premillennialism, but rather, did I feed the hungry, did I invite the stranger in, did I clothe the poor, did I lay hands on the sick, and visit those in prison? Call me crazy, but I think that’s the meat God is looking for. And I have a hard of enough time just doing that. Leaders, I know this is a simplistic approach. But sometimes simple is good. And see if that doesn’t fill your people up.
DAVE WORKMAN | Elemental Churches