Avoid ‘driving thru’ life

Pastor Rob Hughes, - Broadway Presbyterian Church

It’s coming, July 24th! Do you have it marked on your calendar? It’s not a national holiday…yet. Wake the kids and phone the neighbors. Of course I am referring to National Drive-Thru Day, a special day when we purposely spell words incorrectly.

Jack-in-the-Box was the first major restaurant to offer customers drive-thru service, and as such, Jack was at the forefront of having July 24th designated as National Drive-Thru Day. Lest you think such a commemoration is only about burgers, National Drive-Thru Day also celebrates drive-thru banking, drive-thru mail service, and yes, even drive-thru worship.

The Crystal Cathedral in Southern California began hosting drive-thru worship services in the 1950s. Today, New Hope Methodist Church in Georgia, among others, offers a drive-thru service broadcast through your car stereo as the minister preaches from the front steps of the church. “Worship in your car, just as you are” is New Hope’s catchy slogan. I wonder if they have a jingle. As the pastor proclaims, “We have figured out a convenient way for people to worship without feeling uncomfortable.” Um, OK.

Our culture is big on convenience and comfort. Anything that is uncomfortable or inconvenient is to be resisted. Convenience and comfort function as idols to be worshipped, and they drive (pun intended) our seemingly insatiable desire for drive-thru services: California and Oregon offer drive-thru voting; many liquor stores, amazingly, offer drive-thru shopping; a Los Angeles funeral parlor displays the deceased in a large glass window for drive-thru viewing so people can “pay their respects” (well, sort of); Stanford Hospital offered a drive-thru ER; and a law firm in Connecticut offers drive-thru paralegal assistance in the area of (of course!) automobile accidents and other personal injuries. Convenience and comfort are our gods. We even have stores in virtually every major intersection in America known as “convenience stores”. So why shouldn’t faith in God be driven (there’s that pun again) by convenience and comfort? After all, New Hope thinks there is new hope for churches in offering more convenience and comfort. Isn’t church just too inconvenient and too uncomfortable? Isn’t worship at 8, 9, or 10 a.m. just too early? Or isn’t worship at 9, 10, or 11 a.m. just too late? Why can’t we make church more convenient and more comfortable so that more people will attend? Or, perhaps these aren’t the right questions in the first place.

In the Ten Commandments, God states that you shall not worship false idols of any kind. First, the commandment acknowledges that indeed there ARE false idols, then and now. Convenience and comfort are great, just as ambition, politics, money, fame, television, and even food are great. Yet all can become seriously destructive once they become objects of central importance, adoration, and exultation. Our culture worships just as many idols as did ancient cultures, we just don’t recognize them as idols.

Author, G.K. Chesterton once famously said that when people stop believing in God, it’s not that they believe in nothing, it’s that they will believe in anything. That which has lasting value is always worth striving for. Such a pursuit often involves perseverance, struggle, doubt, and frustration along with joy, fulfillment, meaning, and reward. Convenience and comfort do not typically factor into the equation of such accomplishments.

God exists. God calls. God reveals. God judges. God sacrifices. And God loves. These truths, however, are rarely grasped by those who highly value convenience and comfort. Yet when such idols are destroyed, or at least put in their proper place, true life emerges and eternal life awaits.

On this National Drive-Thru Day, rather than merely driving thru life seeking further comfort or convenience, why not experience feeling driven to know more, feel more, and experience more of what Christ and a healthy, well-balanced church have to offer? But I warn you, it might take some effort, there might be an uncomfortable moment or two, and you might have to get up earlier than you wish. Then again, the rewards last longer than a No. 2 combo meal.

Pastor Rob Hughes,

Broadway Presbyterian Church

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