Monthly Archives: February 2009
So I went to a car dealership the other day. If you are like me, you’ve already got that sinking feeling in your stomach. Pushy sales guy, offers you can’t refused, the ol’ bait and switch. We got out of our car and were instantly hooked at the hip with what would now be my “best friend” for the next five hours. We test drove the vehicle, we looked at all the options, I even hooked up my phone through the car’s bluetooth connectivity to make a call (that was kind of cool). We than went inside to “talk numbers”. It’s interesting that my “best friend” now had to make periodic runs to see if he can make my deal work out for me. And finally five hours later, tired, emotionally and physically drained we drove off in a new car.
I can’t help but wonder what do people feel when they come to a church for the first time? Do they have that same sinking feeling in their stomach when they pull up? Over-the-top and obnoxious greeters, sales pitch they aren’t interested in, products they don’t need or care to have. What about our church services? Are they the ol’ bait and switch? Do we deliver what we promise? Do people leave later tired, emotionally and physically drained … or does something supernatural take place? They receive more than they came in expecting, the gift was free, the experience was life transforming. The emotional and physical drain they came in with is gone, in its place is a new excitement and outlook on life. All of a sudden, God has shown up on the scene and answered what they had been longing for, but not knowing how to put into words.
So what do churches and car dealerships have in common? I guess it depends on where you go.
Many of you have seen the movie “Close Encounters”. it was released in 1977 and it took the movie world by storm. It instantly became a classic and is still considered by many as one of the top Sci-Fi movies of all times. It won an Oscar and was nominated for 29 other awards of which it won 10.
Steven Spielburg’s, masterpiece tag line was simply (1) Close Encounter of the First Kind – Sighting of a UFO. (2) Close Encounter of the Second Kind – Physical Evidence. (3) Close Encounter of the Third Kind – Contact. WE ARE NOT ALONE
Although, until recently I never saw this movie, the title has stuck in my mind for years. I believe it is because it speaks to the very essence of what I long for and look for in my walk with God. I want, desire, and cry out for a close encounter of the third kind with Him. I have had close encounters of the first kind – sightings of Him. From my earliest days as a child in church I have seen Him work. I have close encounters of the second kind – physical evidence of Him. I have watched Him step into the physical realm and move on my behalf. However, I am holding out for me and holding out for you for a close encounter of the third kind – contact. Daily interaction. Daily communion. Daily presence. Daily relationship.
I have come to the conclusion that we encounter many things when we talk about God and church. On a regular basis we encounter men. We encounter slick presentations. We encounter professional lighting, professional sound, professional programs, and slick promos. We encounter church. We encounter emotional moments. We encounter exhilarating times of worship. But my question is when was the last time that you had a close encounter with God? Notice I didn’t say when was the last time you were impressed with a church. When was the last time you were impressed by the music, the lights, the logo, the people. When was the last time you had a close encounter with God?