What you want at church

Here’s a quote I read a while ago, but that I find helpful to keep reminding myself of. It’s by Flannery O’Connor, who was an American novelist. She said:

“In education, tastes are not to be consulted; they are to be formed”.

O’Connor was thinking of the classroom when she said this. Her point was that teachers are unwise to simply give children what they want, because what they want is exactly one of the things that needs educating! If teachers gave children what they already liked, almost every classroom in the country would be filled with children watching TV and playing computer games. No, the aim of the teacher is to teach her students to like new things, things they didn’t know they’d like.

What’s true in the classroom is also true in church. The church’s job is not to give people what they already want. It’s not to carry out a survey and run things in the most popular way. The church’s job is to teach people God’s ways, which often don’t line up with our own. See Acts 14:13-15 for a good example of this. It’s exactly when the church refuses to give us what we want, that we’ll start to learn how satisfying God is, and how glorious Jesus Christ, his Son is.

This means as you come to worship God at church, even when you don’t “like” it – maybe, especially when you don’t “like” it – remember,  God is at work, teaching you new wants, which are much more satisfying than your old ones. “In education, tastes are not to be consulted; they are to be formed”.