What do you hear?

“Obama’s a moron,” I hear a relative say. “We know he was really born in Kenya.”

It’s easy to laugh off such things.

“And now he’s just waiting to take our guns.”

“And why’s that?” I humor the issue.

“So we can’t fight back when his Muslim terrorist brothers unleash ebola on the U.S.” This part is said with a look that says “Duh, are you so stupid you can’t see that?”

“Ah, yes,” I say, “Naturally that would be the reason.”

“I’m not kidding.” He leans forward. “Obama just ordered the coffins for all the victims. He spent a billion bucks for them. I just can’t believe how irresponsible he is,” he says, shaking his head. “And who do you think’s paying the bill? That’s right. Our taxes!”

He leans closer, as if to take me into confidence.

“But I’ve ordered an AK-47. Serial numbers scratched off so nobody can trace it.”

Fortunately there’s Snopes, so anyone can readily check out the coffin story. But I suspect my relative would just say that Snopes is secretly owned by Obama or one of his terrorist cells and still wouldn’t listen.

We all know people like this.

They may be the guy at the water cooler quick to say “Where’s that so-called ‘global warming’ now?” whenever that unexpected cold snap hits. It may be something about the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Perhaps after a few drinks at the bar that guy you work with tells you about his clandestine adventure at Area 51 in an attempt to expose the aliens living among us.

When I see people leave the church I can’t help but think of these scenarios to some extent. Certainly they’re not conspiracy theorists, well, at least not as far as I know, but their logic is often equally elusive. Typically you hear the same lines:

“I didn’t show up for a week and nobody called, so I just quit coming.”

“It doesn’t really meet my needs.”

“I was offended by something the pastor/church leader/Sunday School teacher said.”

It’s hard for me not to envision a whining child when I hear these. They might as well be saying “Look at me! Look at me!” and then pouting when everything isn’t about them.

I mean, the church isn’t supposed to be a form of entertainment, nor some sort of social club to rub elbows with they type of people you deem as acceptable to be seen with.

More importantly, it’s not a place that should feed us what we want to hear.

Like the Obama hater who repeats any bad news – even fake – and refuses to hear any good news, I think some folks make up their own mind about certain issues, certain lifestyles and certain comforts of life and never hear anything they don’t want to hear at church.

Can those people be reached? I don’t know. I’m sure some could, but reaching out to others may only delay their inevitable departure. If the tables were turned and they were asked how well they were reaching out to love their neighbor, if they were giving 10 percent to their church or how many people they’d invited to worship in the past month they’d take a step back.

When they realize church is a community effort and not just about them and their needs it may scare them. It may snap them out of their self-centeredness or it may make them stop coming entirely.

Like the old saying about the “i” in team, there’s no “me” in church.

Sure, the church is made from its parishioners, but when “me” is more important than the Bible there’s an issue. When it’s more important for you to chat with your friend, get a cup of coffee or have the spotlight be on yourself rather than the sacraments of church something very important has been unplugged.

Really, if you’re not plugged in – if you’re not actively involved – then I’d suggest you may need to look at what church means to you.

Christ did not call us to be spectators. He did not ask us to satisfy our own needs first. He didn’t say to fill our ears with whatever we wanted to hear and to turn a deaf ear to all else.

What are you willing to hear?

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