My kids recently discovered "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". The story of a few select children who get to see the inside of the famous factory that produced the "Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight" bar. As Willy Wonka shows them around the factory, they are overwhelmed by the chocolate waterfalls and rivers. A place where chocolate is in such abundance that if flows. One child nearly drowns in chocolate!
Now, imagine if the children had entered the Chocolate Factory only to find no chocolate. They found only traces where chocolate had once been flowing. Instead, the factory was producing a new line of Garlic Gum and breath mints that actually give you coffee breath. The kids were duped. This wasn't a Chocolate Factory at all! Neither Gene Wilder nor Johnny Depp could recover that flick.
Fellow followers of Jesus, here's the deal. The Barna Group (a Christian-based research group) noted "14% of today’s self-identified Christians—just one out of every seven Christians—seem to represent the actions and attitudes Barna researchers found to be consistent with those of Jesus." Now, if only 14% of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory products were chocolate, it would be a stretch to still call it a chocolate factory, right? We are facing a similar dilemma as the Kingdom of God.
Christians, regardless of the country we currently live in, are fellow citizens of one Kingdom. The Kingdom of God. Like all kingdoms, we have particular products that we export. What does that Kingdom produce and export? I expect many of us know the right answer. Love. Love is what the Kingdom of God should be producing and exporting. We ought to be monopolizing that market.
Unfortunately, our Kingdom also produces and exports products that are foreign to what should be cultivated and produced by its citizens. The spiritual equivalents of Garlic Gum and mints that give you coffee breath. In particular, we've become a Kingdom that is known for producing and exporting products like fear, hate, and mockery. It is especially produced, packaged, and permeated these days on social media. It only takes a second to share or "like" a post that mocks those who hold to different political views, lifestyles, and religions. A few million clicks and within a couple of seconds, Christians across the globe have exported something that should be foreign to our Kingdom. Things that should neither be produced nor consumed. Garlic Gum.
Paul reminded the Church in Galatia that the "fruit of the Spirit" is love. That's the fruit God produces. As His people, filled with His Spirit, love should also be what we produce consistently. The Kingdom of God ought to be seen by the world as a love factory (I share that term knowing very well that it sounds like a 70s funk band, but I remain faithful to my analogy). The Kingdom of God is meant to be a factory producing and exporting love to the rest of the world. We should be famous for it just as Willy Wonka was famous for producing chocolate.
The Apostle John shared, "Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." (1 John 3:18). More recently, Rick Warren put it like this, "The Church is the Body of Christ and for the last 50 years, the hands and the feet have been amputated and all we've been is a big mouth."
Perhaps our first step might be to use that big mouth to proclaim love to the people around us. Regardless of their actions. Even if they're hateful. Even if they're wrong. Soon after (hopefully VERY soon after), we show those same people that we love them. Love in action. We can put down the megaphone and use our hands for better things. We can be known as those who will bandage wounds, not as those who inflict them. Those who serve the least in our society, not those who vote against them. A people known for intentional and consistent acts of kindness (a step above "random"). People who admit their own faults instead of pointing out the faults in others. Those who earn trust, not mistrust. A Kingdom whose neighbors will run to when in trouble. Remember that "Love does no harm to its neighbor" (Romans 13:10). No. Really. It does no harm.
It may take some time to get the love factory back up to snuff. But love is what we were meant to manufacture and it's time we got back to doing what we should do best. Let this generation of Christians be known for their production of love. A love factory.
Dave became the Senior Pastor in April 2015 at TCC after serving as the Director of Children's and Praise Ministries for 9 years. He graduated in 2011 from A.W. Tozer Seminary with a Masters in Christian Leadership. He and his wife, Katie, live in Sequim with their 6 children, 2 dogs, 15 chickens, and 50,000 honeybees.
Current Sermon Series