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Pushing Over the Outhouse

Years ago, a country boy despised his family’s outhouse. (If you are young, you may have to Google "outhouse".) It was blazing hot in the summer and teeth-chattering cold in the winter, and it smelled bad in every season. After a heavy rain, the boy decided to push the outhouse into the creek by which it sat. Using a board for leverage, he tipped the outhouse over and watched it float away.

That evening the boy’s dad sternly told him to sit down. Knowing he was in trouble, the kid asked why. “Well,” his dad replied, "Someone pushed the outhouse in the creek today. Was it you?"

The boy stared at his feet and nodded. Then he said, "Dad, I read in school that George Washington chopped down a cherry tree and didn't get into trouble because he told the truth about it."

The dad replied, "Yeah, son, but I’m pretty sure George’s mother wasn't in that tree at the time!"

They say confession is good for the soul. It may not have been so good for that boy’s body that day. So, I’m a little reluctant to make this confession: Sometimes, I get bored with church. I try not to, but I’m afraid it happens, even though I’m the one who gets to do most of the talking.

Perhaps I’m not the only one who occasionally finds church something short of thrilling. Some Christians in the first century were ready to quit. Not just going to church, but the whole Christianity thing had gotten to be a chore to them.

Interesting the solution God suggests for their boredom. It’s not what we might expect. We want to quit when something gets boring. Instead, he insists that the solution is to increase our effort. “Don’t drift,” the author of Hebrews tells his struggling readers (2:1). “Don’t turn away (3:12), don’t stop short (4:1), don’t stop going to church” (10:25).

Quitting is certainly easier. But, some things are worth hard work. “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” is the question for those tempted to quit (Hebrews 2:3). If we give up on this salvation, what else is there?

If you’ll pardon the somewhat crude comparison, quitting church is a little like pushing over the outhouse. It doesn’t solve the problem; you just have to find somewhere else to meet that need. Maybe instead of pushing it aside, we put some effort into making church more effective.


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