Spill on Aisle 3

This morning I walked into my local grocery store…not a big box all purpose store that also sells groceries…but a grocery store. The first end-cap I encountered just inside the main entrance was covered with a cell phone display. Evidently my grocery store is now in the cell phone business.

For some reason this bothered me all the way to the dairy case. (where I picked up 12 gallons of milk for the coffee shop) It stuck with me all the way to the church where I’m working today. And even after crossing a few things of my ‘to-do’ list, it still bugs me. Being the twisted person that I am, I googled the grocer’s home page and searched for their mission statement.

  • Our mission is to be a leader in the distribution and merchandising of food, pharmacy, health and personal care items, seasonal merchandise, and related products and services.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know much about business, marketing, the food industry, or macro economics. But I do know that a mission statement is to guide an organization as they fulfill their purpose and it allows those organizations to say ‘no’ to things that would take them off course. Somewhere along the way the higher ups have decided that selling cell phones will help them be a leader in the distribution and merchandising of food, pharmacy, health and personal care items…that there is a connection between wireless communications and bananas, broccoli, and bratwurst.

All this draws me to reevaluate the mission statement of the organization I participate in: the Church. Not the local one. Not the denominational one. But the capital “C” one. The global family who claims a relationship with Jesus and attempts to follow him.

In Brian McLaren’s new book, A New Kind of Christianity, he talks about the mission of the church. “Of many possible answers [of what our mission is] there is one to which I am continually drawn, embarrassingly obvious and simple to understand, but also embarrassingly challenging to do: the church exists to form Christlike people, people of Christlike love. It exists to save them from the great danger of wasting their lives, becoming something less than and other than they were intended to be, gaining the world but losing their souls.”

It seems so simple, so straight forward and yet we complicate it. In Antioch people were first called “Christians” or little Christ’s. They didn’t give themselves that label. Others did. They were marked by a single characteristic: LOVE. Their prayer was to love. Their mission was to love. Their actions reflected love. Unfortunately my life reflects more of an attitude of tolerance than a heart of love. NT Wright said, “Tolerance is a cheap low-grade parody of love.” Ouch.

So now hours after I visited my cell phone selling grocery store, I wonder about the guests who will enter our facilities this Easter Sunday. Hopefully they won’t scratch their heads pondering what we have strategically placed on our end-caps but rather encounter a people of love & acceptance.

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