As I lay in my $160 per night plush bed with six pillows, soft upholstered chairs, air conditioned room, with perfectly polished furnishings I really wondered to myself, is it that our culture is comfortable and complacent or should it be convicted of conspiracy and complicity?
It was a very well attended denominational meeting, boasting over two and one half million congregants nationwide. Kay and I were attendees for the sole purpose of presenting the projects we have been assigned to do in Kenya, as we hear from the Lord. It was a rather hurried invitation, coming just one week before the date of our presentation. We were overwhelmed with the opportunity to speak before almost 3,000 delegates to the convention, and of course to stay in one of the finer big city hotels. I did my usual thing of plopping on the bed, smelling the fresh linen and making sure to stuff all of the free shampoo and lotion into my overnight bag. After all, someone was paying for it.
I was careful not to get anything on the pay per view television, nor take advantage of the items in the small fridge. Room service was good enough for me, and I was already feeling a bit ethereal and floating from the cough medicine Kay had bought me the night before. However, the sense of comfort and ease were hard to ignore, even as Kay and I reviewed the pictures and graphics, and very graphic details we were to present that evening. We were nervous, so we did not have much of an appetite and ordered just a salad and small sandwich. We took advantage of the free coffee which I had not yet stuck in my bag.
As we made our way down to the convention floor, we were both visibly anxious. It was the first time we had both spoken before such a crowd together and we were not sure how to give each other equal ‘play time’. We decided by playing ‘rock, paper, scissors’. Kay won, so she chose a joint presentation. However, as the Lord would have it, the Power Point presentation went well, giving a detailed analysis of our personal odyssey in missions and the myriad of works and accomplishments we had done in His name.
The crowd gave us a standing ovation. It was touching, heartwarming and encouraging. Then came offering time. It was equally touching, but quite a bit more revealing.
We have come to realize that it is near impossible to consider the hunger, the thirst, and desperation of people who live thousands of miles away, when you can just pick up the phone in your room and order Eggs Benedict and Lox and Bagels. The complacency our churches have towards missions is truly a result of being immersed in a culture that makes creature comfort the right of every citizen. So without realizing it, we all feed right into complicit arrangements with the powers that be to continue to sow seeds of kindness and love and conspire to irrigate with salt water and mix in tares of weeds.
Our wealth and comfort are inextricably linked with the investment of the companies we serve, work for and those with which we invest. The poverty and disease we see, or refuse to see are impacted directly by the price we are willing to pay for chocolate, coffee, tea and even a good banana split (which is one of my favorites). Am I actually conspiring to undo the very work I came to present?
Is it complicity, conspiracy or plain old complacency? You judge for yourself. It is time for me to check out of the hotel now and they would frown on me if I stole the towels.