I saw a news item this morning that became the final push to write these thoughts in this post. I saw some young men camped for the past 3 days in front of a Best Buy, somewhere in Tennessee. They are preparing for the best deals for what our merchants call Black Friday. What I saw stirred me beyond words. What I saw stood juxtaposed in my mind with others in other places that I have personally met.
We Americans, irrespective of race, gender, or religion, will begin our race to the malls and stores to make our annual pilgrimage to the shrines of plenty. We will amass great piles of goods to bestow upon others, but (if we were to be brutally honest with ourselves) that sometimes serve more to make us feel good about ourselves. Some of us will do it in the name of Jesus; many of us won't. In a matter of a few hours, all the hustle and bustle will be over until next year. And we will resume our normal patterns of life--except for that of paying off the credit cards we used to make our pilgrimage worth it.
In other parts of the world in which I have lived and served I have seen similar sights. People have waited for hours, if not days, for a great event. People have walked miles and miles, enduring sleet and other harsh elements. People have camped out under the evening stars. Some have risked their lives for these events. They slept where they could in front of or near the place of the big event.
The events I speak of are chances to hear the word of God preached. Yes, I know personally people who give all they have to be able to hear the word of God. And they really do walk for hours and days. I have known some to walk for 2 days, just to catch a bus they ride for 12 hours. Did I say bus? Sometimes it is a cargo truck. Sometimes they hitch a ride in the back of a pickup truck. But they press on so that someone will teach them the word of God one more time.
So this is what stirred me so: I have listened too many times to too many citizens of these United States who are far more concerned about packaging their worship and Bible study into a 60-minute box--120 minutes, if they are really spiritual and went to Morning Bible Study first. I have listened to those who groan over an extra 15 minutes of message and public invitation to respond. I have heard short-winded preachers praised and long-winded preachers plastered.
Do not misunderstand this post. It is not from the pen of Ebenezer Scrooge. I am not at all opposed to gift-giving. But when it holds higher priority for us than worship, we have missed something.
In short, we Americans of the USA do not seem to have much time for things of God. But we have a week to camp out in front of a store to get the cheapest LCD or Plasma Flatscreen. God have mercy on America! God give us hunger for His word once again!