Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Are We Tuned to the Right Channel?

You remember 'old-time' TVs that had the big knob for the channel selector?

Unlike today's TVs, with their electronic tuners, the old TVs had that big knob with all the stations on it, from 2 through 13. If you wanted to advance from channel 4 to channel 10, you had to click-click-click through 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 along the way. Most of the channels in between had nothing on them, so you got a screen full of snow and a bunch of hiss from the speakers as you passed through. Engineers call that 'noise.' After a few clicks, you get to your target channel, and there's a picture and sound -- a clear signal.

At some points in a church's life -- at its founding for example -- it tunes into a strong signal from God, and gets a pretty clear picture of what He wants it to be doing. Then after a while, we get bored with that channel, or don't like the style of the message, and decide to switch channels. Maybe we were tuned into Lawrence Welk on Channel 4, and want to watch Hulabaloo on Channel 10 (remember, this is before MTV). We grab the big knob and start twisting (I can hear my Dad yelling "take it easy, you'll tear up the tuner!"). We slowly move through the chaos and the noise of the channels on which God is NOT talking to us. However, with a purposeful vision that is leading us from Channel 4 to Channel 10, we get there, and once again find God waiting for us. It's a different, but equally clear connection to God.

But if we don't know which channel we heading for, we can get stuck in the chaos and the noise between channels, separated from God's word. Our we keep twisting the tuner looking for the show WE want to watch, not the one God is broadcasting to us.

I think this is where congregations and other church bodies get into trouble. They lose their focus, and end up arguing about which channel to watch. They keep flipping channels until everyone is mad or the tuner breaks. Meanwhile the signal-to-noise ratio is unfavorable, and they have trouble picking God's message out of the morass. Sometimes the argument gets so heated that everyone forgets that they were trying to tune into anything -- they just want to win the argument.

You just don't get a clear signal until you quit arguing with each other, and tune into God.

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