A few weeks ago, my clan and I were in the Outer Banks enjoying a family vacation. We were about an hour down the peninsula (or island, or whatever it is) in a little place called Avon. Avon, itself, is probably not all that famous, but just up the road is another small village by the name of Rodanthe.
Rodanthe is more recognizable. Nicholas Sparks wrote a book about it that was then made into a movie (Nights in Rodanthe) starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane. I drove through it several times during the vacation. Exciting… I’m no Richard Gere, but I did stay at a Days Inn once (not in Rodanthe, however).
I don’t believe we ever stopped in Rodanthe—just passed through. So, I never noticed the bed and breakfast depicted in the movie (it actually exists). But that building (regardless of its existence or nonexistence) was not the important thing in the flick. No, the important thing was not the building (or the town for that matter). The important thing was not a thing at all. The importance of the story was the people, their lives, and their relationships.
That’s not at all unusual—nor should it be. When people are pushed onto the back burner because of things (regardless of what those things are) lives get twisted. As I look around, I regrettably see a lot of twisted lives with a lot of collateral damage.
We sort of expect to see that in our society these days. The priorities of many people get placed on accumulating wealth, possessions, vacations, and the
satisfaction of lots of human desires. All this, to a great extent, pushes other people into the recesses of their lives and often leaves those folks in the dust.
The real problem for us as Christians is that it’s not only prevalent in society, it’s common in the church as well. Some of us attend (and even join) various congregations merely to make connections—connections that benefit us personally. The church just becomes another piece in our network puzzle. Networking, of course, is the name of the game. The larger, the better, the more elite your network is, the better off you’ll be.
“Jesus believes in networking…”
As I read Scripture, it appears Jesus believes in networking as well. There is one, major difference in his networking, however. Jesus’ network was formed to give him the greatest impact going outward. It was not to see how many followers he could get. It was formed to reach the maximum number of people for their benefit—not his. Somewhere along the way we’ve largely lost that concept. We’ve turned it around and turned it inwardly.
Passing through Rodanthe reminded of the movie, the bed and breakfast, and the story behind it. It also reminded me that there are real people living there—real people whose lives are much more important than the fame surrounding their little burg. I doubt they think very often of the film. They’ve got lives to live.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently the pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]