Is it just me, or are scams getting more elaborate? Are criminal minds getting more intelligent? Look at how many super-villains have PhD qualifications: Dr Evil, Dr No, Dr Octopus, Dr Doofenshmirtz and even Professor Moriarty! Where are they getting these qualifications?
Yesterday I heard of an elaborate scam where someone contacts the victim and tells them that they have a delivery coming. The delivery is a bunch of flowers and chocolates, but unfortunately the delivery note and card have gone astray. In order to verify delivery and their identity the recipient is asked to swipe their credit card through a hand held device. The criminals now have all they need to duplicate the card and go on a spending spree.
Most scams and cons work on the basis that people are naturally greedy. We want something for nothing when it is offered, or at least want something for less than it’s worth. Of course the maxim, “If it looks too good to be true, it is too good to be true” is well worth applying in those circumstances. As is, “Don’t give out your credit card details if you did not initiate the transaction.”
I wonder whether scams and frauds like these are the reason why some people are more cautious and reticent about church and God. It looks too good to be true that they are being offered grace, love and forgiveness free of charge. It looks too good to be true that this community of people exist for the benefit of those who are not yet members (to paraphrase Archbishop William Temple). What’s the catch?
Well, perhaps people should be cynical. It’s true that the grace, love and forgiveness are not free of charge. They are not available as a transaction for us, but are the foundations of a relationship with a loving God which he has initiated but in which we need to participate. And just as the forgiveness cost him everything, the transformation in us may cost us friends, ambitions, time… We do people a disservice if we say that it’s free and there’s no cost involved.
It’s sadly also true that many churches don’t exist (solely) for the benefit of non-members. Visitors can receive a less-than-warm welcome in some churches, and I am not just talking about cold buildings and lukewarm coffee. The notices we share in our services are more often than not about what is happening in the church for church people.
But when it’s as God intended… woohoo!
Please God help us to be more like the way you intended us to be, help me to be a better free sample of Jesus.
Be blessed, be a blessing.