Ok…I’ve been asked to further expand on my "Western Sugar Daddy" orphanage comment.
I’d like to do that in two steps. Firstly, let me simply use this entry to share another analogy – the new wave in private institutional hospitals versus the typical M*A*S*H Unit or field hospital. The correlation pertains to the Church itself, but is equally as applicable to expensive institutional orphanages versus economical church-based orphan homes.
You may be familiar with the new private hospitals springing up around the country. These have become pretty glamorous affairs with bold architectural statements from top to bottom, inside and out. Huge sun-drenched atriums are decked with wall-to-wall polished granite floors. Gift shop areas approximate the feel one would get walking into a high-end mall. Java cafes and plush seating zones are interspersed throughout, creating an impression of warm welcome and embrace. Hit movies on demand and gourmet meal choices are now the norm. This is the future of private hospitalized care in the U.S. The comforts of home intermixed with elements of luxury are the burgeoning trend. These institutions more closely resemble connoisseur-choice, five-star hotels, than they do the institutional care environments of our grandparents.
These are places of healing, rest, relaxation, restoration, pampering. Symptoms are assessed, diagnosed and treated. The goal is to make a patient close to whole and then gently slip them back into society, into a daily existence that again greets them with an abundance of pleasures, entertainment and comfort.
On the other hand, the M*A*S*H Unit, or field hospital, is a place to bandage up the wounded in order to send them back into the battle. Casualties are taken care of on site, in the midst of conflict. There is still healing and care, but with the ultimate purpose of returning soldiers to the front lines. It is not about comfort and luxuries. It is about Spartan, functional elements and the end goal: back into combat, back into combat, back into combat! The ‘hands and feet’ come together as surgeons, nurses, orderlies, company clerks, supply officers and, yes, chaplains, all work in concert to mend and send.
What example is more representative of the overall state of the Church in the West? Yes, it’s a gross overgeneralization, I know. It may be a thin majority, but there are too many churches that simply look inward. They believe they are only hospitals for the injured, offended, and letdown. They believe that the Church is only for the edification and sanctification of its members.
They miss that, since the goal of sanctification is for a believer to become more and more like Christ, our hearts are to be more conformed to His heart of compassion to reach that which is lost. The Great Commission becomes the Great Omission.
We are indeed engaged in a battle of monumental proportions. It is a spiritual battle for the souls of men and women that we have the chance to reach…today! It is an urgent conflict that calls for everybody to be fully engaged. It requires the Church to view itself more as a mobile field hospital, able to move to meet the enemy where he stalks and prowls. It requires the Church to bind the wounds of the brokenhearted in order to redeploy them into service…each and every one of them into service…no exceptions.
The shells and mortars are coming. The pampering and passivity needs to stop. The battle is on and fully raging. Eternal souls are at stake.
The great missionary, C.T. Studd, once said, "Some wish to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell."
What do you want your church to be – A luxury private hospital or a M*A*S*H Unit? How you decide and choose to influence may determine the eternal consequences of many.