Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. – Matthew 28:18-20 (Modern English Version)
This week I was working in Los Angeles when I received a frantic call from my amazingly beautiful wife, Jennifer, telling me that our air conditioner is NOT WORKING.
Panic filled her voice. “What are we going to do? It’s sooooo HOT!”
Ugh! How can we live without air conditioning? We live in Florida. This is not North Dakota. Can mankind survive in Florida without conditioned air? Uh, the answer is “yes, we can.”
When I arrived home on Thursday evening I walked into the house and spoke words that no husband should utter under these dire circumstances, “hey, it doesn’t feel too bad.” What was I thinking? As if it wasn’t bad enough I continued the foolish and dangerous verbal path by adding, “It’s actually quite nice.” My perspiring bride had murder in her eyes.
When I woke up this morning with the ceiling fans on high and the cool, crisp morning air wisping through the open windows it actually brought a smile to my face (in which I hid from my melting wife, of course). It reminded me of my childhood.
I am old. Really old. 45 years old to be exact. I can remember a time growing up without air conditioning. Yes, man can survive. I remember when my father brought home a brand new AC window unit from Sears. What a glorious day! We would finally be like my “rich” friends and have cool, refreshing, conditioned air blasting our faces on those melting hot days of summer. My father installed it. Turned it on for about 15 minutes to make sure it was working and then turned it off. I thought, “why did he turn it off?” Actually, I asked it out loud. Over and over again. He informed me that it would run up our electric bill and we would only use it when it was too hot and couldn’t stand it much longer.
Every day through that blistering summer I asked my father if it was hot enough. Somehow, it was rarely hot enough to turn it on. We used it maybe 15 days a year.
Now, as a survivor of the hot summer days of yesteryear, I reflect on that time. I look at my life now and the life of my children and realize how much air conditioning had changed our lives.
Because my parents did not use our air conditioner I spent most of my days outside. Playing. With other neighborhood kids, also outside. Playing. We spent a lot of time outside playing with others. I grew up in the country. It was an effort to find neighbors because they lived a few miles down the road. The discomfort of the indoors drove us to the outside.
What’s my point? The problem with air conditioning is that it creates a false environment that no longer reflects the environment outside the walls. It creates an environment of comfort. It creates an environment that meets our complete satisfaction and shelters us from the harsh reality of the outside world.
I realized this morning that this is the American Church. We have created in America a new, false reality, designed for our comfort – Air Conditioned Christianity.
We have created on insular society that remains within their fabricated environment of comfort to shelter us from the harsh reality of the outside world. We no longer sweat with the world. We are not driven from within our walls to search for our neighbors to play.
Our artificial reality was never the intention of the Carpenter of Galilee when He built His Church. He wanted us to have a place to rest and refuel but not so comfortable that we do not go “outside” to seek out the least and the lost.
That is why we have shouting Christians that stand within their conditioned walls to criticize the evils of those that are outside. We dare not leave our comfort to go sweat in the blistering harsh reality of the world around us.
I am calling us back to a time when the church had no air conditioning, no padded pews, and no coffee shops. Those men and women knew that the building was not to be a place of comfort because we were not suppose to spend all our time on pews. We were to be outside sweating with the world.
Go, get out of your comfort zone, preach the grace-filled, loving gospel, and baptize the exhausted, weak, and sweating people into the cool, refreshing waters of salvation. The lost does not need our air conditioned criticism, they need their thirst quenched by the living water of Jesus.