For some reason, I have never slowly and thoughtfully read II Corinthians 11:23-28:
(The writer here is Paul-a man who once inflicted upon Christians the same pains he received.)
I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
I cannot recall ever hearing a sermon discussing these reality of these dangers. I cannot recall this passage being read during Confirmation Sunday. I cannot recall this passage being declared at a baptism. For obvious reasons, we like to gloss over this.
There is a reason that following Christ involves such discomfort, because it is revolutionary; it is transformative. It is not about us but about the other.
Having read and watched this summer Fast Food Nation and Supersize Me, I have become troubled by the abundance most of us First Worlders take for granted. Similarly, we (the church folks) have created enviroments where people show up to church to “be feed” instead of “feeding others.” In other words we have a created Spiritual Obesity. We offer How To sermons, or Gold-Star childcare, or free Caribu coffee and tend to forget that following Christ is a dangerous endeavor that costs us our entire lives. Therefore, the meat of the message probably is not very seeker sensitive.