We preachers are guilty. Male or female, black or white, regardless of denomination or education, whether we wear a robe or a shirt, we’re all guilty.
Of what? you ask. Glad you asked.
We’re guilty of filling boxes and blocking the door with them.
I’ll explain (by picking on my wife, a little). She collects holiday decorations. Not a little. A lot. Half of my garage is crates and boxes of décor. As we enter the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, those boxes will rotate with Easter, Valentines, Halloween, birthday, July 4th, and other assorted, labeled boxes.
There are so many that occasionally I complain that I can’t find the door into the house. I have to maneuver around them, squeeze between her car and the current holiday, to get in. When I punch the garage door button in my truck, I groan at the sight.
Jesus called Himself the door. “No man comes to the Father but by me,” He said. If you would know God, the one, true, magnificent, unknowable, incredible God, you must know Him through Jesus Christ. He is the door.
The church is not the door. Doctrine is not the door. Preachers aren’t the door. Sunday School isn’t the door. Your denomination isn’t the door. Your theology isn’t the door. Your wisdom isn’t the door. Your tradition is not the door. Only Jesus is the door.
But we preachers… oh, we preach. We preach about antichrists, and bad habits, and “Five Ways to Succeed.”
We preach our dogma. We preach our party line. We make sure our listeners know why our church is the best, or the only one that’s really right. We’re subtle, but we’re clear.
We encourage, and sometimes demand, that our members bring a guest. Build the church! Build it big. We pray to expand! We select colors. We form committees. We decorate for the holidays. We argue and debate the right bread, or wine, or clothes, or props, or liturgy, or advertisements. What makes our church look good? What’s the best way to get attention?
Boxes. Boxes. Boxes. And more boxes. We preach boxes full. We design and decorate, and each design must reflect our doctrines properly. Boxes. We pile them up. Boxes upon boxes.
In one of his books, Jim Cymbala told a story of a particular service at his church. A guest had spoken of Jesus, and the transformation He had made in her life. At the conclusion, several people wanted prayer, and he prayed with each of them. He prayed till he was tired. It had been a long day. He was ready to wrap up and go home when he saw a homeless man shuffling down the aisle toward the stage.
He intuitively reached in his pocket for his money clip because he knew the man was coming to ask for a few dollars. But instead, the man pushed his offered money away. “I don’t want money,” he told the preacher. “I want to know that Jesus that woman just told about.”
How long has it been since you told someone about Jesus? How long has it been since you suggested that someone open that Door, and let Him in?
We are quick to offer boxes. We will give money. We will invite to church. We will promote a speaker, or a series, or even a book.
But what everyone needs is to find the Door.
Do we even remember where it is?
Is the Door so hidden by our boxes that it’s difficult for anyone to find?
Have we convinced ourselves that our boxes are more important than the Door?
Please, Lord, help us de-clutter.
Help us find Jesus behind the boxes.