Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Bottom Line

Several years ago, I stuck a sticky-note on my computer that said, "So What?". It was a reminder note that my sermons need to have a clear point, a specific purpose, and a challenge for us to change. I began adding a line on the final draft of my sermon outline, just under the title and before the Introduction that says "Bottom Line". I force myself to write a one sentence summary of the lesson. This helps me stay focused on the "So What" of my lesson and also keeps me true to my goals of being simple, logical, and biblical.
In tomorrows lesson on 2 Thessalonians 3:6-18, where Paul warns them about idleness and how to deal with brethren who are guilty, I was impressed with his unspoken Bottom Line. I wonder if it was on Paul's outline somewhere. The reason it's unspoken is because it's the foundation Bottom Line for most of what our spiritual journey is all about. Be a giver not a taker.
Those who were idle at Thessalonica, or anywhere for that matter, are takers. They want everyone else to take care of their needs, make them feel good, give them what they want, sing their kind of songs, pay for all the costs, and demand nothing in return. They probably even used some doctrinal arguments about the Lord coming back at any moment to justify their non-actions.
Look at that description again. Not only does that describe a lot of folks in the church today, but because of our obsession with, and elevation of, the assembly, it's why so many congregations are having worship wars all across the country. When you put a bunch of takers together, the goal becomes comfort, predictability, and security. They don't want to hear about relationships, giving, love, truth, and transformation. Their Bottom Line: "If I don't get what I want, I'll find a place that will give me what I want. And I can even quote you some verses from the Bible to prove my point!"
Paul's command to the church was to quit enabling those idle brethren. If they don't work, they don't eat! I think his Bottom Line was - do what you have to do to help them go from being takers to becoming givers.
I many congregations are run by the takers rather than the givers? Givers see opportunities to give. Takers are all about receiving. Remember which one Jesus said was "blessed"?

1 comment:

Deborah said...

What a great focus on the "So What" of so much of God's Word (not just Thessalonians). After all, God is the true Giver!!