I love the show Parks & Recreation. It's not the most Christian show, and it won't teach me any values for my life, but it's silly and it makes me laugh.
I love the character of Ron Swanson. Ron is a manly, unforgiving, uncompromising individual who will not be derailed from how he wants to live his life. And he's hilarious.
In a recent episode, his character was being forced to talk about motivation, and how to become motivated in the workplace. Ron then said:
There's only three ways to motivate people: money, fear and hunger.
The quip was meant to be funny, but is it true?
It's true in the world. People will do almost anything for money. We've seen people kill other people for money. We've seen people intimidate with fear to get what they want. We've seen hunger ravage entire nations and motivate people to do what they have to do to live.
What about in the Church? I think in the 1950's, fear was a great motivator for people coming to Christ. Fire and brimstone sermons from high pulpits made lots of people think about the Gospel. But fear doesn't work anymore, in my opinion. Fear as a motivator in the church just doesn't bode well with people and families any more.
So what does? Some people in the Church say we're losing people right and left. Some people are saying that our kids go off to college and never come back. Others say that those same kids go off to college but go back to church later in their 20's and 30's.
So what are we using as a motivator today in the Church?
Love should be our prime motivator, but often times isn't. Most times it's the need for connectivity and community that brings people to the Church.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that just like the Gospel in the first century, we should always be pressing forward, and in some places, it feels to me like we're still motivating with fear instead of love.
1 John 4.20-21:
If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.