Tim Hawkins pretty much sums up my feelings about Chick-Fil-A. If you’ve never listened to his song, you must do so (after reading the rest of this post!). One of the amazing things about Chick-Fil-A (CFA) is that no matter where you go, you can expect the same smiles, the same service, and the same “my pleasure.” It’s something I’ve tested in several cities, including Chicago.
While back in East Tennessee (yes, there are definite divisions to TN – just ask anyone from there), to help take care of my mom during her recent kidney surgery, I decided to test this hypothesis once again at the CFA in Elizabethton, TN. So, this morning, I stopped in on my way back to Franklin Woods Community Hospital (shout out for excellent care of my mom so far!) to get a chicken, egg, & cheese bagel.
Sure enough, the staff was super friendly, very quick, and the only waiting that occurred was them waiting on me to get my CFA app opened to scan. That’s actually when I first thought, “I should blog about this from the idea that the ‘church’ should be as consistent from one person to the next as CFA is from one restaurant to the next.” I mean, if a business can teach, train and multiply consistency SO WELL, then why does the church struggle so much to do the same? (Not sure I’m ready to handle that topic, but it is definitely something to think about – leave me a comment about your thoughts on this!)
However, something happened that made everything change. There I was reaching into the bag to pull out my delicious breakfast and suddenly I knew something was wrong. Instead of pulling out a large foil wrapped piece of chicken goodness, I retrieved a much smaller package. To my dismay, I had been given a sausage biscuit. And while they actually do have good sausage biscuits, it just wasn’t going to fit-the-bill this morning!
So now, I was left with a conundrum. The thoughts just passing through my mind were of such high esteem for my beloved fast-food restaurant, and now they had committed a blunder of “this isn’t even the right SPECIES” proportion! (Ok, so it’s really not that big of a deal, but we are talking pig vs chicken here!)
However, nearly instantaneously, my thoughts went to “wow, they actually messed up.” Now, I’m not saying that it’s never happened. CFA is made up of people and we all mess up, so there’s always the possibility of error. But what I want to point out is how I was framing their mistake. It wasn’t, “Can they never get things right?” or anything like that. It was more along the lines of “oops, hate it when I mess up to, let me go back, and I know they’ll fix it quickly.”
And that’s when this verse suddenly popped in my head:
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
You see, when we care deeply for one another, the grievances that we cause one another really do play out differently (or at least they should). When someone sins against us, our thoughts should push more toward the relationship than the offense. The love that we share should be the defining factor, not the wrongdoing that took place. I believe this is especially true in two areas:
Our family should be a safe place. It should be THE place that making a mistake should not bring the condemnation I would expect from everywhere else. Our kids should feel safe enough to bring to our attention their struggles and their mistakes, and we as parents should never criticize our kids when they offend us. They need to recognize that the love we have for them is greater than their sins. After all, isn’t that the hope we have in how GOD has forgiven us? His response to us in love (the cross) is greater than our sin….
Nothing divides and conquers a church like the lack of love and grace for one another. When a church starts getting divided into groups so that it’s “members vs members” or even worse when there is a “staff vs members” attitude then the church is in very serious trouble. Why? Because when you get to that point, even innocent mistakes are seen as intentional. It’s amazing how we can spin all kinds of tales when we are jaded in our thinking. Very minuscule things can turn into “they don’t accept me at that church” or “members just won’t do anything we ask them to.”
If you don’t think this is a big deal to GOD, go read 1 Corinthians 12 & 13 back-to-back; Don’t even pause between 12 and 13. We often refer to 1 Cor 13 as “the love chapter.” Would you be surprised that the main focus of that chapter relates to loving one another in the church?
Now you may be thinking that I am advocating ignoring sin. That is NOT the case. We are not instructed to call right that which is wrong. In fact, it is actually un-loving to see someone we love struggling with sin and NOT help them. Check out what R.C. Sproul, Jr has to say:
“When we are wronged our calling is to practice a careful moral calculus. Is this offense one I should let go of? Is it among the multitude that love covers? Or is this offense grievous enough that love means confronting in grace my brother? Sadly what we usually do is think we are practicing the former while actually holding grudges and putting miracle-grow on roots of bitterness. Peace […] calls us to under-accuse, over-repent and over-forgive. Let us not be afraid to call sin sin, but let us not be slow to forgive it and to look past it.”
Let’s Land this Plane
Chick-fil-a treats their customers in such a way that a loyalty, dare I say a love, for their customer friendliness can be created. As their customer, I WANT them to be successful. How much more do I want the PEOPLE in my life that I love to succeed?
So let’s attempt to keep Peter’s admonishment to love one another earnestly front-and-center. If we do so, maybe the next time we receive “sausage biscuit instead of chicken, egg and cheese bagel” behavior we will respond in love to cover that sin instead of judgement.
3 thoughts on “Love, Blunders, and Chick-Fil-A”
I think that the church is different because there are different denominations, different beliefs and different focus on differing practices. Instead of focusing on God’s love and what unites us, we focus a lot on what makes us different and separate.
Great thought about consistency within the church. I spent 30 years at a local church that was consistent in everything…..how you were greeted, the order of the service, who sat in which pew, the frequency of business meetings (always conducted under ‘Robert’s Rule of Order’ ), and so on. I found great comfort that there were no surprises or distractions. The preacher reminded me of Adrian Rogers, and the church body ran about 1200 members in it’s Heyday. Its doors are now closed and the building is occupied by a church of a different denomination.
Fast forward to today. Our little church is very messy and anything but consistent. Within three years time we’ve met in a small building on the square of Independence , Mo, then moved to the high school from which our pastor graduated, then 6 months later moved to what used to be an auto parts store in a strip mall. Our pastor was a drug dealer here in Independence. He got thrown into the Pokey where God finally got his undivided attention and he surrendered his life to Jesus. 90% of our church body are recovering from some addiction. It’s a messy church. (Have I already said that?). This group of people haven’t learned how to play ‘church’. I came to that realization sitting in one of the addiction recovery meetings and listening to testimony after testimony about what a mess their lives were before Jesus called them. It dawned on me that for years I had listened to sermons and had read about miraculous life transformations in the Bible, but here in this very room I was witnessing and rubbing shoulders with miracles.
To ‘land the plane’ , Jesus came for and called the messy into His service.
I still struggle with that. Each Sunday I have a choice……I can go south a few blocks and attend the ‘predictable’ church service, or I can go north a few blocks and be bombarded be smiles and hugs and stories of messy lives……..at least they’re both consistent.! (I have to get ready now to go north.)
Love this! I guess I was thinking more about the consistency of turning out true disciples. Maybe better said on my part would be, “Why does the church struggle to be consistently LIKE JESUS?”
Great thoughts, and hopefully the consistent churches will become “consistently” messy by loving messy people!