Saturday, July 07, 2012

Charles Addams provides a sermon illustration: Can't you get along with anybody?

Since seeing it many decades ago in a collection of Charles Addams' work, I have thought of this cartoon again and again. I have alluded to it, used it, and finally found it again here. It's funny, and makes a point, and can work as an illustration for a dozen sermons:

I'm sure all of you could provide possible applications. The obvious application is just to a disagreeable, unfriendly, ungracious person.

I more think of it in relation to the person who imagines (and it is just that) that he can't find a local church to commit himself to. Because this one is too small, and that one is too large; in this one, the music is too modern, in that it is too traditional; in this one the people are too cliquish, in that one they're too intrusive; this one is a degree off of true on this doctrine, while that one is off on that doctrine. Sermons too long here, too short there; too deep here, too shallow there. And even when it's just right, it's not just-just right.

So, you see, I have a note from God making it okay for me to sin.

But just me.


Anonymous said...

Nail. on. the. head. (Sadly, however, most won't listen to a pastor who tries to tell them this.)

P.D. Nelson said...

Hey it's Saturday I'm not suppose to be convicted on a Saturday. Now you're just meddling.

Eddie Eddings said...

Funny and to the point!

trogdor said...

We recently had to change churches, and one of the most important realizations we had to come to was that we were never going to find the perfect church. So we had to figure out what things were essential, what things were merely preferences, and how far we would be willing to bend on some things.

After checking some websites and listening to some sermons online (to get a feel for the preaching, and to quickly identify which ones we would not need to waste a Sunday visiting), we visited a few and came up with some questions to axe. Basic stuff about the ecclesiology, children's ministries, opportunities to serve in different areas, whether they planned to start promoting false teachers and slanderously vilify anyone who spoke up against it, that sort of thing.

We visited two. Both are imperfect. Both are perfectly good enough. We picked one. We're settling in.

I wouldn't have thought we were exceptional in this regard, but I sometimes talk with old friends who have lived in their cities for years and haven't yet settled on a church. Recently we talked with a family who has been in an area with numerous churches for over a year, and still they don't have a church home. One otherwise-fine church was dismissed because they have kids in the main service starting at 5th grade, and they would prefer it to start around 7th grade. I wish I was kidding, but any pastor will know I'm not.

The church selection process is a lot like dating. You need to be discerning, but if you're too picky you wind up a bitter, pitiful, lonely old man. The first step is realizing that they're not going to be perfect, any more than you are. So figure out what is non-negotiable, pick one who meets those qualifications, and learn to deal with the things that you think are less than ideal. You might even find out that your preference was stupid and you're better off anyway.

trogdor said...

Oh, one more thing. Last week we had dinner with a friend who's a missionary in a Middle Eastern country (side note: there is now one copy of this in the country that we know of). In the region his family's serving, there is one church. They are part of it.

When we axed him about it, he mentioned some great things, and some that were far from ideal but not total deal-breakers. It's definitely the type of church they would prefer. But they have dug in anyway. Why? Because it's a church. If they didn't, the next-closest would be several hundred miles away. So their choices are to be a part of that one, or...?

I can't help but think of the contrast with those who have literally dozens of churches within a 15-minute drive, and can't find one that's good enough for them. Does it meet the Biblical qualifications of the church? Are there free of any automatic disqualifiers? Then it's good enough for you. Find those, pick your favorite among them, and dig in.

oma4 said...

We recently changed churches because we actually got saved and could no longer stay in Pentecostal church where we have been members for 12 years. The "tongues" the slaying in the Spirit, the words of knowledge and new revelation from God that was accepted as the norm became a stumbling block, we met with the pastor and graciously parted ways. We now attend a Baptist church and the pastor there enthusiastically endorses Rick Warren AND John MacArthur! If I had my way he would drop Rick Warren, but we are staying and becoming part of the family.

DJP said...

Trogdor, I feel like every time you comment on one of my posts, you double its value. Thanks.

DJP said...

oma4, LOL. That's what most people think "cognitive dissonance" means. Like saying your favorite presidents are Reagan and Obama.

Curt said...

DJP...I've been reading your posts on Pyro for awhile now and have been blessed. I'm looking for some help, some advice, some direction. My family and I are attending a church, have been for awhile (we're newcomers to this community here in Canada). The pastor is nice but there is very little Bible teaching, let alone any kind of doctrine being taught. Some Sundays a verse of Scripture is read and that's it. We've recently had our pastor encourage the congregation to take part in a "NCD Communal Survey" and asked us to do in in honor of his wife who recently passed away. The denomination has just announce that at the Genreal Assembly they passed a vote on ordaining women. It seems the Word of God is not honored at all in practice. There is a Baptist congregation in this town that is "King James Only", but I've listened to some sermons online and they seem Biblical (no "this is why this version of the bible is of the devil" insertions in the sermons).

I will be talking with the pastor about my concerns and then see where things go from there. We are thinking we may have to change and think the Baptist church may be an option.

Dan, I've been a believer for many years but it is only within the last few years that I have this renewed thirst for learning the Word. I don't know what sound doctrine is but it seems what I'm hearing and seeing in church is not it. It just seems worldly. I feel this huge weight in being the leader of my family and then to take them to church and have them exposed to this...wrongness - the guilt is sometimes unbearable. We come home from church and watch some John MacArthur sermon videos just to be fed with the Word.

What do I do? Is attending a KJV Only church worse than being in a church where there is little to no teaching in the Word? How do I learn sound doctrine? I just want to do the right thing here.

Thanks Dan (and my apologies for the rambling).

Amy said...

I so agree with this but (I'm sure you love the "but" part)....

The small church plant my husband and I have been very involved in may have just hit its breaking point today. It's a miracle we've made it this far (long story). My heart is breaking, thinking that this may be the end.

If it fails our choices are a mennonite church that turned Toronto Blessing (which we left when we were newlyweds), our former Southern Baptist church run by an abusive, crazy pastor, that now fits the definition of a cult (used to go there too, had to flee before he destroyed our family), a fundamentalist baptist church that is rabidly anti-calvinist, Anglican, Catholic, United Church of Canada, an Alliance church closely aligned with Willow Creek and the seeker sensitive movement...I could go on.

We live in a small city in northern Canada. The next major centers are three hours north or four hours south.

The church situation here is truly dire. I don't even know how to communicate how lonely it can be. We are perfectly capable of getting along with others and are not looking for a perfect church.

It is truly important to us to be in fellowship with other believers and involved in a local church! We've reached out to some long distance connections for encouragement, but it just isn't good enough.

We live here to be close to my chronically ill mother, father who has cancer, and elderly grandmother, so moving isn't really an option.

I would love to know what others would do in a similar situation. We aren't interested in hanging out in our living room, feeling bitter and superior, listening to sermons on the internet.

Mike Farrants said...

Ashamedly sometimes I find myself in your description of someone who imagines... "this one is a degree off of true on this doctrine, while that one is off on that doctrine" I constantly have to guard againist striving for that "perfect church made up of imperfect people", duh!

trogdor, would love to talk to you offline as I may be in a similiar position soon. (see the email in my profile)

Chris H said...

I must be some sort of stupid yet to be determined because I do not get that cartoon. What's going on? There's a lady sitting on the floor with... what? - dolls? She doesn't seem mad at the dolls... So why is the dude giving her a hard time about not getting along with people?

Honestly, I've never EVER had a problem figuring out these things before, so either this is so subtle I am missing it, or I've taken a blow to the head and didn't realise.

Chris H said...

Canadian myself, and with many friends/family in northern communities, perhaps if you get in touch with me through my profile we'll have some believers in common.

Barring that, even something as small as a home-based Bible study can be edifying, if it is the most Bibley thing available. At least, IMHO.

DJP said...

They're voodoo dolls.

Does that trigger it for you?

Chris H said...

The penny, as they say, as dropped. Thanks.

DJP said...

I'm here for ya, bro.