The mail boxes of America are being stuffed these days with a lot of junk! Solicitations, most all of them unsolicited, pour in daily from companies with something to sell. I do not know how you feel, but personally I do not mind this. One can learn a lot from junk mail. Besides, if it were not for these good compassionate companies, some days no one would write me at all. As it is, when I open the box each day I am always comforted to know that someone cares. But, what many of you may not realize is that Churches get junk mail too. Is nothing Holy anymore, not even that "sacred" part of the postal department?
Now some of you may not be privy to the "Church Box" down at the post office. I have been for a number of years and, believe me, what comes in is often interesting, a veritable commentary on the spiritual state of affairs in our time. Consider the following.
The postman may leave a letter from a construction company specializing in building Houses for God to dwell in, or an offer from a lending institution desiring to finance (at a good rate) the next Temple, or a pitch from an insurance company wanting to protect the building in case of fire or theft. One of the newest insurance solicitations is for liability coverage on the Minister in case he gets sued for giving some poor soul a piece of foolish wisdom. Actually liability insurance on the preacher is not a bad idea when you get right down to it. Some preachers are indeed a liability, and others are "liable' to say and do most anything. Of course, fund raising projects come in regularly. They often come from professional fund raisers who make a big business out of making money for the Lord. I am sure He is grateful since He is always in need. Then there is one company (at least) that sells a filtering system for the baptistry, to get rid of all visible impurities. Yet so far, to date, no one has come up with a way to cleanse baptismal waters of the sins left there by recently baptized sinners. Perhaps this is because sins "washed away" in the waters of baptism are not seen except with the eye of faith.
The most interesting solicitation to come in lately, however, was one from a hotel and restaurant supply company offering a complete line of products, including the following items: ice cream scoops, meat grinders, meat slicers, food mixers, food blenders, ice shavers (for snow cones), popcorn poppers, hot dog steamers, nacho warmers, char broilers, griddles and deep fryers. Oh yes, and cash registers! Upon reading this advertisement, I thought sure the Church had gotten on the wrong mailing list. I could see how a congregation of God's people might need bread for the Lord's Table. But popcorn? A collection plate would have made a little sense. But a cash register? Surely the Church had received a local restaurant's mail by mistake. But no. It was no mistake. Evidently this literature was sent out to all the Churches in the land. It made me wonder what kind of business this company thinks Churches are engaged in.
Then it dawned on me, again, what has happened to religion in recent years. With the passing of time, the world of Churches has become noticeably less spiritual and noticeably more secular both in nature, and practice. The activities of modern Churches distinctly reflect this change. Certainly no one can blame an enterprising hotel supply company for taking advantage of this circumstance. After all, if Churches are in a business requiring a cash register, someone needs to sell them one. Now at the present time most Churches still use a few Bibles, and hymnals also; but one day these may give way entirely to ice shavers and nacho warmers. As I say, you can learn a lot from junk mail.
But wait. Just as I was about to throw the last piece of "junk mail" into my religious trash can, in comes yet another solicitation too good not to pass along. This may be the best one in a long time.
"NOW YOUR CHURCH CAN OFFER THE ANSWERS," proclaims the ad. Answers? To what? Why the answers not only for "struggling Christians" who are lazy and/or depressed, but for those who are also FAT. Yes. dearly beloved. The time has now come when "believers can experience freedom from the bondage of eating problems." No doubt there is more rejoicing in heaven over one pound lost, than over nine pounds in need of losing. Anyway, what is offered to the Church by this advertisement is a new dynamic "3-D" program of Discipline, Discipleship and DIET. Apparently over 12,000 Churches already have "found" this program to be an ideal way to reach out and offer a "spiritual dimension" to this rather large problem.
Therefore, this aggressive company is now providing more progressive churches an "exciting new diet program for believers." (Presumably, this is a diet that will not work on fat sinners.)
Now all you skeptics hold on. There is no question about whether a program of this sort is "according to the Scriptures," For the great prophet Isaiah (Ch. 61:3) declared plainly that the coming Messiah would replace the "spirit of heaviness" with something better. And Jesus himself plainly said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are HEAVY..." Does this not clearly indicate that the Lord wants to take the load of fat off his disciples? Why else would the Bible encourage the practice of fasting? Besides, we all know by this time, after listening to radio/tv evangelists over the years, that God does not want any child of His to experience sickness, nor does He want any of them to be poor. But now we learn, praise the Lord, that God also wants every Christian to be slim and trim. In New Testament times, of course, Christians who were concerned with food were trying to find ways of feeding those who were hungry, rather than trying to keep hungry folks from eating. But times have changed I guess. In any case, at least now true believers who are ten pounds beyond perfect can use a diet they can have full confidence in, knowing that it comes sponsored by the "divine" institution. Overweight members simply need to have faith in the Scriptures, which positively say, "they looked on him and were I.IGHTENED." (Psa. 34:5)
Frankly, as interesting as it was, I found this latest offer to be somewhat deficient. While I realize there are many heavyweight Christians around who need help, weight is surely not the worst problem of this type that some have to face every morning. What about those disciples who are downright UGLY? A few extra pounds may indeed be '"gly fat," but remember that skinny saints can certainly be ugly also. Now IF the Christian faith is a system designed by God to make its adherents both healthy and wealthy, and slender as well, then surely, surely, it must provide ways to make them better looking too; or at least passable. Remember, ugliness is a serious problem for the poor souls who have a bad case of it - and especially for those who wish to preach. Seems to me like, getting rid of all these other physical woes from the life of true believers (with the kind help of all these spiritual entrepreneurs), the Lord would go on and get rid of ugliness too. But alas, at the moment no company is offering the Church an "All Saints Beauty Program" guaranteed to make Christians fashionable as well as faithful. But it's an idea whose time may soon come. Iíll keep my eye on the junk mail for you.