A custom-built product, unlike a mass production item, is one that is
made to fit individual specifications. The manufacturers invest a
considerable amount of energy and finances to see that a given product
meets the peculiar taste of the individual customer. For example, a
computer can be ordered with or without a DVD player. In the case of
a car, we can choose cruise control or decide to do without it.
Those who live in America are very much used to custom-made products, though the idea is not so familiar to those who live in third-world countries. Here we can even get “custom-made” sandwiches, chicken legs, and omelets. However, if we visit a village restaurant in India, the server would not give us a choice based on whether we like the item spicy or mild, rare, medium, or well cooked. People in developing countries, in general, are thankful for what they have, while most people in affluent countries are hard to please even when the most peculiar specifications and wishes are met.
Today, our society even has the privilege of custom-built, tailor-made Sabbaths. People who enjoy sleeping late on Sunday mornings have the privilege of attending noon services. What about those who want to go fishing on the Lord’s Day? There are churches in many cities that conduct “Sunday Services” on Saturday nights, leaving the members free to mind their own businesses on Sundays. Recently, one of my neighbors who regularly attends Saturday night worship services said: “ I can get it over with Saturday night; I have all Sunday for myself.”
Churches today are more than willing to make any adjustments to accommodate the wishes, fancies, and whims of the people. The word “discipline” has almost become an obsolete or archaic word in the Pentecostal-Charismatic dictionary.
Many who attend spiritual conferences come with the mental disposition typical of a generation that is so used to custom-built products. “If it does not meet my needs, then I have no obligation to support it,” they seem to believe. They are the ones who talk and disturb, yawn and doze off during conference sessions. A good number of them also seem to have bladder-control dysfunction, for they have to visit restrooms so frequently during sermons and also in between praise and worship songs.
Such people have distinct attitude patterns. If any program does not meet their peculiar affinities, they reject it. Some will listen only if the speaker has a loud thundering voice. Certainly, the body of Christ has been blessed with speakers who deliver the oracles of God in earth-shattering voices. However, we must not forget that God has used numerous preachers who deliver their sermons in a soft-spoken, low-pitch style. Some are impressed only if the speaker runs around and across the stage. However, may we not forget that God has also spoken through evangelists who are calm and composed in their pulpit manners. The world had been inspired by ministers who adhere to a traditional preaching style, and also by ministers who bring the message of God to the people in a “teaching” style.
Are we hard to please? Have we become too demanding? Do we attend conferences with an attitude so negative that we reject everybody and everything that does not satisfy us in a special and personal way? Are we nervously impatient when the registration line is a little long or when the food does not satisfy our peculiar tastes or when the minister extends the altar service beyond the closing time? If so, we are spoiled.
Jesus Christ is not custom-built. He is not tailor-made. Neither is he user-friendly. He cannot be mail-ordered to meet our wishes.
As we meet for large-scale conferences, may we remember that every breakfast, every lunch, and every supper may not be extraordinary and memorable. Every desk clerk may not be prompt. Every line will not be short. Every seminar, every preaching session may not cater to each person’s peculiar affinities. This is the occasion when we are called to be adorned with a positive attitude. Remember that people who serve us—waiters and waitresses, desk clerks and custodians, managers and law enforcement officials—all are watching us. Jesus is either glorified or dishonored through our actions and attitudes.
We expect a lot from conference coordinators. May we realize that the Lord Jesus expects a lot more from us as individual participants. He expects that we be custom-built and tailor-made to conform to His image and attitude. He expects that we become user-friendly to Him, so that He can easily use us in any manner He chooses.