By Dr. Chris Surber
The recipe called for just one egg. “No problem!” I thought. I had noticed a full carton of locally farmed eggs in the refrigerator earlier that day. I gathered all of my ingredients on the freshly cleaned countertop. I plugged in the power chord on my vintage thrift store bought a mixer. I carefully collected the contents of my recipe in a sparkling glass dish for mixing my cornbread batter. Then, one at a time, I cracked eleven rotten eggs into a separate little dish. I washed the dish after each egg, certain that the next egg would be fine! I closed my eyes as the last egg splashed into the little bowl. It was the only good egg in the carton!
There are many rotten eggs in the churches today. From sex scandals to money scandals. From aggressive fighting fundamentalist rhetoric to sugary flittering fanciful scoops of meaningless. Religious eggs that would gladly mix in and spoil the batter of our lives are in no short supply. Baptist Minister of a century ago, Joseph Fort Newton, once stated, “Because a few get God and the devil mixed in is no reason why we should move out of the house of God into a bleak orphanage.” Religion is essential to the pursuit of ultimate meaning. Religious places are not all adorned with steeples. Not by a long shot!
Today, as in days gone by, people worship power, money, and material wealth. People worship their intellect, their inventiveness, and a host of human accomplishment. A society that claims to be non-religious does not cease to be spiritual just because it says so. Humanity has a worshipful design and when we remove spiritual dialogue from the conversation, the spirit does not cease to be hungry for worship. It just shifts its spiritual affections in the direction of material things. It substitutes right ingredients for our spiritual batter for rotten eggs.
Do not give up entirely on the Church simply because rotten eggs can be found in her carton. Do not reject religion simply because she sometimes wears a mask not her own. Do not move out of the house of God into a bleak orphanage of spiritual isolation just because some people mix good ingredients with rotten ingredients. There still may be a good egg in the carton that you are simply yet to find.
The fundamental aspect of religion that is good, right, and true is that religion which posits and helps its adherents attend to just one question, “What is the fundamental meaning of life? What, if anything, have we been created for?” Ministers who help others find the answers to those questions are not like elementary school librarians. They cannot point to one section of one book on a shelf. No. We are more like fellow pilgrims on life’s journey saying, “Out there exists a brilliant labyrinth. Give me a moment to strap on my sandals, pick up my walking stick, and I will sojourn with you.”
We will seek the answers together honestly. We will walk together in love. We will listen to the voice of God. Together, we will find the enriching ingredients for the batter of our lives one pure egg at a time.
Dr. Chris Surber is Senior Minister at Mt. Hope Congregational Church in Livonia, MI. He is also the Co-Founder and Executive Director of “Supply and Multiply” in Montrouis, Haiti. Visit him online at www.chrissurber.com