The Lamb’s Book of Life – That’s got to be one big book. Indeed, we must be talking about a library of books; I mean volumes upon volumes of books by this stage in human history. Has heaven switched over to the Lamb’s terabyte hard drives? One would think so, given the number of people who died in the 20th century alone. It’s a strange metaphor. If there’s only one book, books can only be so large to be practical for reference uses. I write this as an owner of the two-volume edition of the Oxford English dictionary. It is unwieldy and requires a magnifying glass to read the entries. Are we sending the message that eternity (“Heaven”) is limited to those whose names can be written in something the size of a single book? Why would God use books anyway? Doesn’t this strike anyone else as odd and outdated? God is omniscient and omnipotent, or so we say; I wouldn’t think God would need as much as a post-it note. We’re dealing with God, after all. Sometimes I don’t think we realize how strange we sound-especially to the unchurched and people with no religious background.
It’s all in God’s plan – I’ll never believe that random acts of suffering, violence, illness, and death are somehow part of God’s master plan for the universe. So, do not say these words. If we repeat this distorted version of a vengeful God who plays bets with our lives like a poker player, God comes off as a real jerk. It would be easy for people to think God is testing them with each sickness, tragedy, and catastrophe that struck their lives. But listen: God loves you unconditionally. Sometimes life sucks.
That’s my seat – (That’s my pew.) There are no assigned seats in the kingdom of heaven. I hope Rosa Parks is in charge of seating in Heaven. As such, if a visitor or someone new happens to find their way to where you usually sit on Sunday mornings, be gracious and keep your mouth shut. Welcome the visitor, introduce yourself, and sit somewhere else. Be cool. Hospitality is the greatest gift you have to give.
I can’t sing – No one else can either, man. None of us are winning American Idol. That’s not the point. Talent is not the issue. Joy and gusto are what matters. No one cares that you can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Sing like your life depends on it. Watch an English football match one weekend. Sing as they sing. We should sing like English soccer fans in church, off-key and loud.
I’m going to withhold my tithe – To do what? Go to the Olive Garden? Do you want the church to be unable to pay the light, water, and power bills? Or are you opposed to the pastor having health insurance? How do you want to hurt “your” church most by hurting its ability to function, your pastor’s health, or the congregation’s ability to serve others in mission? Each time you say, “I want to withhold my tithe,” also say, “I want to hurt people.” You need to be clear as to what you’re doing. They are one and the same.