Some of my very earliest memories at church include having 5th Sunday Music Nights. I was a big fan of those nights and wished they came around more often. We would hear songs shared from some of the most talented people I know. While I’m not one of the most talented people I know, I too learned how to sing in front of a crowd on Music Nights. It was tradition that when these nights rolled around during the summer, our services would be followed by ice cream. Not just any ice cream (though there are few kinds that I don’t enjoy), homemade ice cream. In my not so humble opinion, it’s the best version of ice cream there is!
At the close of the service, all the kids and teenagers would race to the swings hoping to get there in time to actually be one with a swing. Otherwise, you were left watching because no one ever gave up their swing. At least, not until the ice cream was ready.
It was nothing to have infinite churns of homemade ice cream lining the sidewalk. The options felt endless— Chocolate, Butter Pecan, Mr. John High’s Peach or Strawberry, Oreo, Vanilla, Aunt Vicki and Uncle Dennis’ Mint Chocolate Chip, and Sara and Kirby’s Cherry. There were several flavors that you just knew would be on that sidewalk every single time. How do you choose? You don’t. If you like it, you add a little to your hodgepodge filled bowl, and just go home wishing you had not done that (again). No one had to convince us to go get in line or say “try it, you might like it”. No sir—we had to bargain our turn on the swings for the last serving of our favorite kind.
Even if you haven’t grown up around homemade ice cream, I’m guessing you’re probably still a fan of ice cream itself. Sprinkles, hot fudge, candy, nuts, cookies, fruit. Maybe you’re a sucker for sundaes, banana splits, ice cream sandwiches, Nutty Bars, milkshakes, or even just a scoop on top of cobbler or pie. (I’ll take vanilla on top of a fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookie any day of the week.) You can eat it in a cake cone, waffle cone, waffle bowl, dipped cone, a cup, or a bowl. Dairy Queen, Sonic, Cook-Out, McDonald’s, Baskin Robbins, Kilwin’s, Haagen Dazs, and the list goes on…
Think about it: when was the last time you saw an ice cream commercial and thought “wonder if that’s any good”? I’d have to think long and hard before I can picture even just one. I know I’ve seen commercials that have tried to convince me to buy some other product, because it’s somehow as fabulous as ice cream. Or even, “come eat at our restaurant, we have ice cream”. Rarely a commercial for just ice cream.
The thing that’s most fascinating about ice cream is that—it sells itself! No one has to convince us to buy it. We’ll dine with you, you have ice cream. We’ll come to your resort, you have ice cream parties. Admit it– it’s not a birthday party, unless there’s cake and ice cream. Ice cream sells itself.
Is it like that with Christianity? Not usually. I’m convinced, unfortunately, most Christians don’t really enjoy their relationship with Jesus. We tend to have to tell people that we are a Christian. It doesn’t just sell itself. Something’s gravely wrong with that picture. As D. L. Moody wrote, “It is a great deal better to live a holy life than to talk about it. Lighthouses do not ring bells and fire cannons to call attention to their shining- they just shine.”
My prayer is that the Lord will find me faithful shining, living out His love to the people’s lives He’s put me in. I hope that the reason I do not have a passion for missions is that my form of Christianity is not worth propagating. I want to be in such close relationship to Jesus that I can’t help but live as a mirrored image of Him. Sadly, I think I tend to miss the opportunity more than I take Him up on it…
“A soft drink company in Atlanta has done a better job getting brown sugar water to these people than the church of Jesus Christ has done in getting the gospel to them.” (Radical)