Cherry on Top

Cherry on Top

Cheri and I enjoy spending time with our grandchildren. The moments are precious. The experience is always fresh, energetic and adventurous. On one such occasion, we took the 5 eldest of the grandchildren to Peachwave in the Omaha area to get ice cream. The way the system works is you choose the size of cup you want, then the ice cream flavor or combinations thereof, then the toppings and then you pay by the weight. If you’ve never had the experience, you should try it at least once. Did I mention the cost was determined by the weight? Needless to say it is an expensive trip. I had no idea they would put so many assorted toppings in their cup and don’t forget the whip cream with a cherry on top.

When we all settled around the table together, I began to look around to see what they each had in their cups. With the whip cream and a cherry on top, their cups all looked very similar at first. But as I continued to watch, I noticed them eating toppings that I would never associate with ice cream like gummy worms and gummy bears. What? No wonder those cups weighed so much. I thought sprinkles were a bit much until I saw this performance. For me, the center of attention is the ice cream. However, the center of attention for the grandchildren were the toppings. In fact, some of them had very little ice cream in their cups. In any case, we had a good time talking, laughing and comparing what we put in our cups.

As I think about the few times we’ve shared this type of experience with our grandchildren, I can’t help but draw a symbolic connection with the toppings and American Christianity. From a glance, we all seem similar as one Christian and church compares to another. At the very least, we say we believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord but is this like covering up what lies beneath with whip cream and a cherry on top? The Bible is clear that there is one and only one God (DT 6:4) and we should have no other gods (EX 20:3). The practice of American Christianity seems to demonstrate that we are satisfied to have various toppings (gods) as long as we deliberately place a cherry on top (Jesus) displayed on a bed of whip cream (cloud of contradiction and hypocrisy).

A. W. Tozer writes, “The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.” Really, has our purported monotheism (one God) become polytheism, the belief in many gods like the ancient Greeks? We would likely deny it but think about how often we push Jesus aside for someone or something else as if He is just one of the gods (toppings) among many in our lives (bowl)? For that matter, how often do we dig out the proverbial gummy worm (your choice among an assortment of idols) and feast with delight instead of savoring the real center of our life and worship (Jesus)? As the famous preacher from Chicago, Dwight L. Moddy, once said, “You don’t have to go to heathen lands today to find false gods. America is full of them. Whatever you love more than God is your idol.”

I had no idea my grandchildren would put so many assorted toppings in their cup with whip cream and a cherry on top. Similarly, I’m befuddled that the American Christian and, in turn, the local church is progressively accepting idols as part and parcel to our expression of worship and lifestyle. Not to mention, and I don’t believe I’m imagining this or overstating the issue, but it seems the greatest of our idols is self. It’s amusing to watch our grandchildren fill their bowls with more toppings than ice cream but its horrifying to see people who claim to be members of the body of Christ saturate their lives with so many idols (toppings) they are left with little or no time, energy and desire (space in their bowl) for Jesus. Isn’t it time to repent and stop parading around like Jesus is a cherry on top when we know our lives (bowls) are filled with meaningless idols (toppings).

I’m thinking about opening an ice cream store that only serves ice cream but I’m thinking it would be as popular as an American Christian or church who only worships Jesus. Seriously, the center of attention for our worship must be none other than Jesus Christ. He is not a way, a truth and a life. He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). However, the center of attention for many has become anything else. It is analogous to all of us going to an ice cream store and instead of eating ice cream we feast on the toppings. Let’s be brutally honest. There are many things in the modern era church that the apostles would have never associated with worship of the one true King. Things like the attraction and demand for ambiance, comfort and convenience. Maybe it’s time to look deep into our bowl (soul) and remove everything other than the main attraction (Jesus) for our worship, the foundation of our faith and life.

A Work in Progress,

Pastor Gene