There’s a keen little proverb credited to Woody Allen that goes like this (I know you have heard it): “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Get busy organizing your life. Draft a game plan for everything from what time you will eat your meals to your projected career path. Tell yourself and those around you where you plan to be in 10 years, 20 years, or by retirement. Fix in your mind how you think life will go – and that sound you will hear in the distance will not be thunder. It will be God, splitting his sides and the heavens with uproarious hilarity.
Now, God’s not going to throw a monkey wrench into your plans; I don’t think he does things like that. He laughs because control is an illusion. Life twists and turns like a corkscrew. He knows. He’s been around a while to observe such things. You can fight it – and never have a minute of peace ever again – or you can go with it.
Someone once came to me while in dire straits. It was a terrible situation, no doubt, but I observed that the greater pain was not the situation. It was the fact that the situation had gotten out of his “control.”
He said, “I just cannot take this; I will not accept it!”
Finally I said, “But what choice do you have?”
Here is another spot I could just camp out with for a while. My God, the things we do to ourselves – not attempting to cope with our problems, no – but attempting to avoid reality; insisting with all rigidity to shape life in our image. But for our purposes today, let’s make application to the church.
Churches organize – even this one. It is impossible to do otherwise. When two people get together to do something, even if it is to eat lunch, they organize for that purpose. Organization is not a dirty word. But there is, somewhere, a line that organizations (and churches) cross, where they transition from being a living thing made of living, breathing people, into a lifeless machine. They become a button-controlled, gear-driven contraption that runs on auto pilot and cannot change, adapt, or adjust. It’s like the rise of the cyborgs: Organizations become less than human and actually degrade people rather than empower people.
If you don’t believe me, consider this: You can work for, bleed for, and die for a people or person you love, and you will never be forgotten. If you work for, bleed for, and die for an organization, the ink won’t be dry on your obituary before the machine rolls on without you.[i]
The above post is an excerpt from Ronnie’s latest book, “The Gospel According to Waffle House” now available at Amazon.
[i] This is a loose summary of a phrase often quoted by Dr. Bill Leonard, Wake Forest School of Divinity.