If difficulties arise, immature Christians soon disappear, because the last thing they are willing to do is endure difficulties.
One of US President John F. Kennedy's best-known phrases is: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.
It is a great civic motto, which goes against the attitude of those who expect to get the best of a situation doing nothing, and it praises those who put the general interest before theirs.
The difference between a nation that rises and starts to walk and a nation that gets stuck without a future, lies in the proportion of people who choose one alternative or the other.
The phrase could be paraphrased like this: “Ask not what the church can do for you; ask what you can do for the church”. I am not talking about the universal, but the local church.
The difference between a mature Christian and an immature Christian, is that the first asks what he can do for the church, while the second asks what the church can do for him.
Throughout my Christian ministry, I have met some mature Christians, who are foused on how to serve, how to help and put their gifts at the service of God and others.
But I have met countless immature Christians, who only want to profit from the church. They do nothing and are only there for their personal interest.
If difficulties arise, they soon disappear, because the last thing they are willing to do is endure difficulties.
Christians who are always wondering what the local church can do for them do not know what the word commitment means. In fact, that word is not in their vocabulary, because commitment requires effort and sacrifice, which demand surrender and renunciation.
Christians who are always wondering what the local church can do for them are the most demanding; but those demands are directed towards others, not towards themselves.
They expect the preacher to be bright, deep, original and relevant every Sunday, as well as entertaining, vibrant and uplifting - a task that is beyond the capacity of the vast majority of preachers. No one could achieve this Sunday after Sunday, over the years.
If the preacher has a bad day and the message has not been as 'good' as expected, these people already have an excuse to start investigating in another place, in search of the ideal preacher.
They also expect the worship service to be according to their preferences, believing that the rest of the congregation has to adapt to them.
Human relationships are not easy and demand a lot of patience, love and forgiveness, so they avoid being involved in situations that require all that.
Their motto is the law of the least effort. Least effort from them, but maximum effort from others.
Since in the small churches an enormous level of responsibility and work is required, they choose the big churches, where they can go unnoticed, not lifting a finger.
Finally, many of these Christians end up being virtual members of virtual churches, connecting online, which does not require duties, burdens, or obligations.
These Christians who today are in one church, tomorrow in another, and the day after tomorrow in another, do believe that the perfect local church exists, forgetting that in the event that it existed, it would stop being perfect the day they turned up for the first time.
If all Christians were like those who are always wondering what the church can do for them, there would be no local church.
Because for a local church to exist, it is necessary to have committed and responsible Christians, who have a sense of duty and who remain there in good times, in not so good times, and in bad times.
Those who only live at the expense of others are spiritual parasites and not stones on which something solid can be built. Today they are here, and tomorrow they have disappeared.
I thank God for Christians who wonder what they can do for the local church. It is thanks to those Christians that there have been, there are and there will be local churches.
They are the ones who carry the burden of responsibility on their shoulders, those who continue against all odds, who knowing that they will err and be criticized, nevertheless, persevere and move on.
What kind of Christian are you?
Are you one of those who wonder what the local church can do for you? If you are of that type, you will never get anywhere, rather, you will become an unreliable, unstable and annoying person wherever you go.
Are you one of those who wonder what you can do for the local church? Then, you will be a “vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).
Wenceslao Calvo is a Spanish pastor, preacher and speaker.