Did We Make A Difference?

Steve Highlander of C3M Ministries and Co-Pastor of Christ’s Church of Nevada has written a provocative article to challenge our concept of Christianity.

I must admit I am a sucker for good motivational speeches in movies, especially when the odds are against the good guys.

I loved the speech in Independence Day when they go to fight the aliens: “‘Mankind.’ That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom… Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution… but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: “We will not go quietly into the night!” We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!

How about the speech in Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, when it looks like the age of the humans had come to an end and Aragorn says: “My brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me! A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day….when the age of Men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand! Men of the West!”

You can’t forget William Wallace in Braveheart saying, “Aye, fight and you may die, run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!”

I am not sure how I missed it before, but tonight I watched the Star Trek Generations Movie for the first time. For those who haven’t seen it, a time anomaly puts Captain James T. Kirk and Captain Jon Luc Piccard (80 years apart) in the same time frame. At one point Kirk tells Piccard, “Don’t retire, don’t let them transfer you or promote you. When you’re in the captain’s chair you can make a difference. I haven’t made a difference since I retired.”

Later, after they save the day and kirk lays dying, he asks Piccard, “Did we make a difference?” Piccard says, “Yes, we made a difference.”

What a question for you and me to consider. Today. Tomorrow. When we lay dying. “Did we make a difference?” Is any one’s life better because I was here. Did I change anything for the better? How much of what I have done has eternal value?

We should also ask that question concerning our churches. Do they make a real difference? For all our worship and teaching and events, are we really changing anyone? Are people getting saved? Are disciples being made? Are ministries being raised up?

Sometimes I look around and wonder if the things we are expected to do really make an eternal difference. As the old saying goes, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” What happens if he spends his whole life fishing and ends up in hell? Did we make a real difference?

Is that too cynical? Or does it beg us to answer the question of what eternal purpose our activities, events, worship and sermons are. Are we teaching people to be happy and comfortable, or are we teaching people to take risks and make sacrifices for the King of Kings?

In a tongue in cheek essay, Wilbur Reese penned these words that, unfortunately, capture the unspoken sentiment of many that call themselves Christians: “I would like to buy three dollars worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough of Him to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the eternal in a paper sack, please. I would like to buy three dollars worth of God, please.”

My great fear is that too may churches and ministries are providing the warm milk and hammocks. How many are opting for the excitement of the event rather than a true life-changing encounter with God. How many times has the cup of warm milk been in my own hand?

I suppose you can tell I am reflecting. Lately I’ve looked around at spiritual needs that are not being meet by having another meeting. I see the people who don’t need another service, they need the investment of love and time of Christians. The need someone to take them under their wing and disciple them. In some cases they need a place to live where they are constantly encouraged in their Christian life until they take spiritual root and start to grow themselves.

In fact, I wonder if having another meeting doesn’t sometimes hinder Christians from going out and doing something for God? We don’t have time to SERVE, because we are always running to SERVICES! We invite people to discipleship classes instead of disciplining them. We hand them a book on prayer rather then praying with them. Hmmmmmmm!

At one time I worked for the McCook Daily Gazette in McCook, Neb. Harry Strunk was the spunky Publisher back in the 50’s and 60s. His famous saying was, “Service is the rent we pay for the space we occupy in the world.”

Are we serving or going to services?

“Did we make a difference?”