Is it "Buffet or Obey"

Is it “Buffet” or “Obey?”

Buffets are often an excuse for gorging yourself on your favorite foods but it’s fun nevertheless.  I like buffets because you can look over all the food choices and pick and choose what suites you at the moment. I especially like the Chinese buffets because there is the section of classic Chinese main dishes along with rice or Lo Mein noodles. And, of course, there is the section of sushi and other delightful poppers wrapped with seaweed and filled with rice and an assortment of raw seafood, cream cheese and vegetables. And that’s not all. There is the section where you can build your own plate and have a skilled cook grill it up on the hibachi. Plus, if you have any room left over, you can go to the desert section and pick from several choices to please the palate before needing a nap.  All in all, you are totally in charge at the buffet. You can eat what you want and you can choose the size of your portions. You can also return to the line as many times as you like. Okay, maybe it’s a good idea to limit our visits to our favorite buffet style restaurant.

Unfortunately, if you take a close look at what is going on in the average church in America, you’ll notice a buffet type mentality. For instance, many have a list of personal preferences and then go looking for churches who offer the best spiritual, or likely not-so-spiritual buffet. The so-called buffet doesn’t even have to offer solid spiritual food, just food that is personally positive and pleasing. This means that a growing number of people making up the local church are spiritual buffet connoisseurs if you will.  The result is weak and anemic local churches. Why? These churches are navigated based on popular opinion, comfort and convenience. All in all, although the head of the church is supposed to be Jesus, He has been subtly replaced by the so-called church buffet consumer. Instead of having a focus on following Jesus our Lord and Savior, the god in this crowd is self-centered preferences. Furthermore, even though the mandates of scripture may be read and discussed, it is quickly ignored and replaced with mass consumption of spiritual junk food wrapped in an appealing

How can you know if you are a spiritual buffet consumer? Only you and God truly know your motives and thoughts. Maybe it’s time to have a heart-to-heart discussion with God? In addition to that, your priorities, activities and expenditures expose who you really are. All in all, if you are a spiritual consumer, you’re looking at God and the Bible as ways and means to benefit you. You somehow imagine that you are in the buffet line calling the shots. You build your own plate from and endless buffet line of junk food. You pick and choose based on your preferences instead of God’s commands. Even your testimony focuses on how you feel instead of what God is doing. The real issue stems from your desire to control in lieu of your need to submit to God’s sovereign authority. The commands of Jesus seem no more than a suggestion. And , for that matter, the worship of Jesus appears to be optional and certainly less important than a number of other activities.

How can you know if you are an obedient follower of Christ? First, you can tell by what motivates you.  If you are motivated by loving God (Matthew 22:36-38), you’re off to a good start.  This is also necessary if you’re going to persevere. Second, you exercise distinctive attributes of obedience-based discipleship:  1. Disciples make disciples . . . MT 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . . 2.  Disciples are Christ-centered, Christ followers who will give their life for Jesus . . . MT 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 3.  Disciples hold to the teachings of Jesus . . . JN 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples . . . 4. Disciples unconditionally love and care for the needs of other disciples . . . JN 13:35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 5. Disciples bear fruit as evidence of their relationship with Christ.  JN 15:8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

Okay then, is it “buffet” or “obey.” In summary, it is “buffet” if it is about you and for you.  It is “obey” if it is about loving Christ and obeying his commands. Spiritual buffet consumers weaken the church and pressure the church toward idolatry and consumerism. They are steeped in emotional appeal and led by feelings. And not to forget, they are primarily motivated by pleasure and comfort. In contrast, obedient followers of Christ exalt Jesus and carry out his commands. They are immersed in Biblical truth and led by the Spirit of God. Moreover, they are motivated by loving Jesus.  As you can see, there is a stark difference between “buffet” and “obey” mindsets. One is having it your way. The other is doing it God’s way. One is a substitute form of Christianity that mixes in assorted flavors and metaphors Christianity but boils down to humanism. One is authentic as it expresses love for Christ by obeying His commands. Who are you?

A Work in Progress,

Pastor Gene