Daydreaming while idly watching TeeVee, enjoying shows without continuity—shows that allow us to peek into epic mansions, classic cars, and unbelievable motor homes—toys of the very rich and famous.
And of course the fancy Yachts— fine expensive yachts—floating vacation penthouses—Wealth on Water, WOW! I never cease to be totally amazed at the magnificent, luxurious, multimillion $$$ yachts designed and owned by the privileged few. Surely you have seen a few of these masterpieces of seagoing opulence. Their exteriors are show- stoppers, things of beauty, oozing with the display of apparent wealth. One can’t help but get the feeling of ‘one-upmanship’ as the host takes us inside. She is careful to point out the hand rubbed hardwoods, exquisite marble and granite and the elaborate fixtures. It seems every moveable feature is controlled by the latest electronics. We are shown the individual state rooms, each lavishly designed and decorated to impress: featuring spacious bedrooms with ocean views and fancy imported linens, a giant disappearing TV, and a private bath.The meals are served in the grand dining area, centered under an Italian crystal chandelier and bedecked with white linen tablecloths and napkins, expensive china, delicate stemware, sterling silverware; and staffed by trained chefs and waitpersons, and offering a wide variety of gourmet foods and fine wines. Whew! The members of their exclusive little clubs are well taken care of.
It is very obvious that these yachts are not merely transportation vehicles meant to ferry passengers from point A to point B. Nor are they destined for common seaports catering to the area fishermen. No-sir-ee! They are party boats! The sole purpose of these marvels of extravagence is to entertain and cater to an elite circle of friends and acquaintances. The comon thread among the revelers is the mutual benefit aspect. They avoid the rough seas, dreary weather and murky water; seeking out the bluest waters, the sunniest skies and the most exotic ports of call. An outsider would not fit in. Needless to say, I have never been invited to go on one of their exclusive excursions; nor would I be comfortable with their list of hoity-toity guests.
At the other end of the luxury spectrum are the trawlers—rugged seagoing vessels—floating workhorses of the seas. These specialized boats are not designed or equipped to accommodate guests; nor are they merely transportation vehicles meant to ferry passengers from point A to point B. They are designed and outfitted for commercial fishermen. They are fishing boats, not party boats. Although romantic paintings of beautiful white trawlers often appear on the walls of seafood restaurants, this is not the norm. Rather than things of beauty, their exteriors are totally utilitarian—no display of opulence. They are constructed to withstand whatever ill winds, rough seas, freezing weather the fishermen might encounter during their quest to locate and land fish.
Their interiors are no better. To say that they are not designed to impress would be an understatement. There are no hand rubbed hardwoods, no fine marble nor granite; no elaborate fixtures. The only electronic devices on trawlers are for communication or navigational purposes and, of course, for locating the prize—-precious schools of fish. Otherwise, their small interiors contain the barest of creature comfort amenities. They are no more than minimal enclosures where tired and hungry fishermen can have brief respites from their laborious tasks. Surely you too have seen various cable network shows centered on these scarred, well used, storm tested boats; both in action and then returning victoriously to port, proudly carrying their hard earned reward in the hold of their vessels.
Hmm, I am strangely reminded of two similar types of church facilities. On the one hand we find the opulent structures designed and built more or less as sanctuaries for the scrubbed and brushed, potty trained, well seasoned church-goers. These churches are built to impress; having all the creature comfort facilities and amenities to coddle and entertain their members. There seems to be an unstated rule among such churches: the unwashed would not be welcome. They wouldn’t fit in.
On the other hand, we find trawler type churches built to accommodate the needs and purposes of ‘fishermen’. Their goals and facilities and programs are all geared to seek and to save the lost. Rather than coddle their well seasoned members, they are trained in evangelism—trained to be fishers of men. The ‘unwashed’ are not only welcome in these churches, they are diligently sought after.
Thinking of trawler type churches, I shall never forget an incident which I witnessed in our church. I had been given the privilege of teaching our Bible class in the absence of our teacher. And as such, I was also privileged to sit in on a teacher’s meeting (huddle) where plans were laid for the upcoming Sunday’s lesson. We were meeting at one end of the entrance hallway at the same time a huge group of noisy kids were crammed like sardines into a room at the other end of the hallway. They had been drawn into our church for what was termed ‘Extreme Worship’. Young people of every ilk were represented—many wearing shorts, flip-flops, and t-shirts with worldly images emblazoned on them. Some may have come out of broken homes, or homes where abuse was the norm; some may have been in trouble; some may have been school drop-outs. Some of them may have been stoned—they may have actually gotten stoned out on our own parking lot. One stringy haired little girl had actually brought her big shaggy dog with her. Were they welcome in our building? Welcome? Dear Lord, that’s what we pray for! It appeared that we had hit the ‘mother-lode’. What a wonderful opportunity God had granted us.
Their praise music was so loud that our leader suggested we move to another area for our huddle. Once seated in the quieter area, he opened our session with a prayer which included the plea, “Dear God, there are kids down there that may or may not have ever been in a church before. Please let us say something, or do something, or be something that will win some of them for your kingdom!” WOW! I don’t think I have ever been as proud of my church as I was at that moment. Our church was genuinely striving to be ‘fishers of men’.