Have you ever been to a church potluck? I have been to many. In case you don’t know a church potluck is when all the people of the church bring in 1 or 2 of their favorite dishes to share. By the time all the dishes are together you have one fantastic meal. What’s great is you know the cooks. I can taste Sarah Bakers Asparagus Casserole, Janet’s Deviled eggs, and all the great desserts. My Mom was especially famous for her banana cream pie. People would fight over that pie! However, I never really liked it as a kid! A church potluck is really a free buffet.
Now, when I was a kid going through the food at a potluck I would stack all the food and stuff my plate to overflowing. I could never eat it all. My Mom always would say my eyes were bigger then my stomach. Plus, she would remind me, “Remember, other people are eating too. You need to leave some for them.” She was teaching me that I was in a social norm and that when I am at a potluck I need to be aware of the other people and make sure they get some too. I now go last at a potluck, that way I don’t have to worry about the social norm.
On the flip side, I also love a good Chinese buffet. Believe it or not back in KY there were four such wonderful businesses in town. I really enjoyed eating at them. When I would go through the line and get mu Moo Goo Gai Pan I never think, “I need to make sure there is enough left for everybody.” I always take as much as I want, even if I empty the dish. Why is that? Simple, I paid $8.95 for that buffet. I don’t worry about what is right or wrong, I simply want to get what get what I paid for.
I think we can have a similar experience with following Jesus too, and the result is a compartmentalized faith; a faith that gets practiced in one arena and not another. Too often we base our faith practice on our circumstance (Say social or marketplace or sports, or whatever) and not on God’s commands. For example, you don’t cuss at church but you do on the field. Or you might be cruel to a person at work and say business is business. Kindness doesn’t apply in the marketplace. We cheer our children when they succeed but rejoice in the other team’s children’s failure. It happens all the time all over the different arenas of our life.
But Jesus has called us to a higher standard. He has called us to apply God’s ethics and way of treating people in all arenas of our life. I pray that we may do so. For further thoughts on this read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.