The Church is Not a Drive-Through Restaurant
Paul describes the unity and diversity of gifts in the body of Christ by saying: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:4–7). All of us are gifted from the same Spirit; all of us are called to serve in the power of the same Lord; all of us are called to be active by the same God; all of us have gifts to serve the common good. As Paul goes on to say to the Corinthians, “all were made to drink of one Spirit” (v. 13).
What is this “common good” of which Paul speaks? It is that God is glorified in the midst of the congregation; for example, in singing. What are you doing to bring that about? The common good is that the lost come to hear the gospel and be saved. What are you doing to serve that glorious purpose, to spread the seed of the Word? The common good is that those in the church who are hurting find healing, the broken find restoration, and the weak find strength. What are you doing to serve others who seem to be hurting, broken, and weak?
Because of cultural influences on the church in America in our time, we tend to treat the church like a drive-through restaurant. We think to ourselves, “It will always be there and it will always have what I want, when I want it.” So, some of us attend worship once a week, some twice a month, and, sadly, some of us only occasionally. We come to get something and to leave. If it is not there, we go somewhere else. Others of us treat the church like any ordinary social club, a PTA meeting, a family reunion, or a gathering of friends. We come expecting to talk about work, football, and the latest gossip. We do all of this because we are sinners to be sure, but also because we are products of the world around us.
We need to stop treating the church this way. The church is a body, not a drive-through. It is a group of living people. The church is a spiritual place, not a social club. When we come on the Lord’s Day, we need to expect that God is going to meet with us in the power of His Holy Spirit. Further, we need to expect that there will be others there who need our spiritual gifts. The Holy Spirit gives each of us gifts for the common good, so we need to shift our focus from ourselves and use our gifts to serve and edify others. If each of us thinks of ways to serve others—and not how we need to be served—the entire body will function healthily.