I have never had an In-N-Out Burger.
Inevitably, when I tell one of my friends who is from California, they go into this long-winded argument about how much I have missed and how this thing needs to be rectified immediately (or as soon as possible).
I love a good burger, so I just listened and wondered at this mythical, magical chain and their wondrous burgers that would turn so many of my good friends into burger evangelists.
Finally, my wait is over. Two In-N-Out locations opened up in the North Dallas area today. Someday soon, very soon, I will experience the greatness of the In-N-Out burger experience. Soon, I too may be converted.
Even as Americans in our culture grow less tolerant and interested in organized religion, there are many of us who are easily evangelized into becoming die-hard fans and advocates for products, companies, and sports teams whose fundamental bottom line is to make money off of us. It feels like we are sort of trading one religion for another. And on top of it all, the relationship is never very balanced. We are invited to become fanatics about a product that we have little or no control over and often have no recourse if our experience goes sour (minus a boycott).
Church, on the other hand, is supposed to exist for others. I read a quote somewhere that church really is the only organization that exists for the people outside of that organization. Not that we have done a good job in the past few decades of living up to that ideal. Like a bad business, we just expected that people would come in through our doors and accept our product, even if it was bland, disconnected, and preoccupied. Were we too focused on our cliques and not the people on the outside?
Even as people line up for the newest iPad or In-N-Out restaurant, it reminds me that Jesus must have had something figured out, since he had people following him into the wilderness to camp out and hear him speak. What was that message? What turned those first listeners from consumers to evangelists of the good news? Maybe it had something to do with his mission statement from Luke 4:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.
Yeah, I’d probably line up to see that happen too.
If you want to help the church figure out how to speak that theology again, why not join us at one of our pub ministry nights or for Sunday worship?
Until then, keep camping.