Okay, just to be clear that this post isn’t as gross as it might sound.
We had a baptismal service at church recently and I sent someone a message that said:
Are you able to bring your camera? A few photos of the baptism and also one of everyone gathered around the poo would be good?
Thankfully, the person who received the message found it quite funny but it was a pretty embarrassing moment for me and a reminder to re read messages carefully before I send them!
When we have a baptism at Orchard Baptist, we all leave our seats and gather around the pool in order to see what is going on. There is always a real sense of family, love and togetherness as we gather to share together in a person being baptized. In fact, what could be better than gathering around baptism which is a reminder of cleansing from sin and of new life in Jesus?
Paul, who wrote a lot of the New Testament, wrote about how he had relied on so many things to get to God but that he had come to see how worthless they were compared to knowing Jesus.
7 I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ (Philippians 3).
The word that is translated as garbage in v8 should rally be translated as ‘poo’ (the message translates it as dog dung).
Paul is saying that all these things that he used to trust in are really like poo, that they are repulsive and abhorrent to him now.
I was walking in the countryside with my girls recently and as we walked past some sewage works, both my daughters began to complain about the smell.
Poo is not something that we gather around!
So, what are we gathering around? When we meet with other Christians, do we focus on the things of God or are we focusing on other things and priorities?
Sadly, there can be a lot of the spiritual equivalent of gathering around poo in churches.
Sometimes people plot together so that the church can be kept just the way they like it.
Sometimes people consider how they can gain power for themselves in the church.
Sometimes people gossip about other people.
Sometimes people do all they can to undermine the leaders of the church.
Sometimes, churches jump on the latest bandwagon rather than asking Jesus what he wants for his church.
All these things are the equivalent of gathering around poo whilst Jesus is nearby wondering why we are ignoring him.
Who/what are you gathering around?
Who/what are we focused on?
Who/what is driving us?