OUR NEW KROGER MARKETPLACE
A year or so ago, a new Kroger Marketplace opened down at the end of the road we live on. We had been doing most of our grocery shopping at Wal-MartSuper-Center, but we decided we owed it to ourselves to check out this new place, and are we glad we did! Buddy-roe, let me tell you—it is something else! Neither Feenie Allison's nor Cull McHenry's Grocery Stores back in DeFuniak Springs, Florida where we did our grocery shopping when I was a boy—with occasional forays to the Piggly Wiggly—could hold a light to our Kroger Marketplace!
In addition to aisles and aisles of all kinds of grocery items, lockers full of an unbelievable assortment of frozen food items, and a meat department bulging with all kinds of steaks, chops, roasts, hams, seafood, etc., the Marketplace features a beautiful array of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with a bakery and a deli. But that is just the beginning. It has a walk-in clinic, an optometry department, a pharmacy, a floral shop, a Starbucks, and a bank where my wife does all her banking. It even has a furniture department, a home goods department, and a jewelry store. Outside, up at the front of the parking lot, are several bays of gas pumps where we buy gas for our vehicles, usually at a savings of several cents per gallon, based on how much Jan spends inside the store and how many points she has accumulated. (True to her feminine logic, she thinks the more she spends inside the more she will save at the gas pump!) And talk about convenience!
Plus, the first Wednesday of each month is Senior Citizens' "Discount Day" when we older folks are able to pick up a lot of "specials" at some pretty good deals. Besides that, on that day they serve free coffee, orange juice, fresh fruit, doughnuts, and other goodies. Jan does not like for me to go with her on those days because I embarrass her by taking advantage of all the freebies, going back for seconds, etc. Too, she fusses about how all the "old people" clog up the aisles with their shopping carts as they park them helter-skelter, socialize in the aisles, and take forever to move on.
Modern religion in many respects has mimicked modern marketing techniques. Churches now strive to meet all the "felt needs" of their constituents and prospective constituents. In effect, they have become religious supermarkets. They build kitchens, fellowship halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, spas, and bowling alleys. They install coffee bars and juice bars. They sponsor softball teams, baseball teams, basketball teams, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, fitness programs, drama productions, and dance classes. (Yep, one church of Christ in Texas a few years ago conducted a Monday night class on Ballroom Dancing.) They conduct financial seminars, retirement planning seminars, AA classes, divorce recovery classes, weigh-down programs, and all kinds of self-help programs. Counseling is available on a wide variety of matters.
The subliminal message that is sent by all of this activity is that "we may be a church, but we are not a bunch of stuffy old religious fuddy-duddies; we are as 'cool' as any social or civic club in town, so come on down and join us, and we'll show you how church can be fun" (in other words, we really won't "preach" to you all that much)! Some churches have bought into the notion that "if we build it, they will come," only to be terribly disappointed that not only did they not come and the church did not grow, but it actually declined, leaving it with a big debt and facilities that are unneeded and unused.
Don't misunderstand me. Some of the above things are good. I'm not against helping people live more fruitful, productive, happy lives. Our world is in a mess and many people's lives are in a mess, including the lives of many who are Christians. But we need to remember that Christ came into the world to save sinners (I Timothy 1:15). He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). He came to call sinners to repentance (Matthew 9:12-13). In Him alone can mankind find redemption (Acts 4:11-12). The gospel of Christ is God's only power to save (Romans 1:16). Without obedience to the gospel, a person is eternally lost in torment (II Thessalonians 1:6-9). The church is the pillar and ground of the truth (I Timothy 3:15). If the church does not preach the gospel to sinners, who will? If the church does not concern itself with the mission that was the mission of Christ, who will? The church is the manifestation of the manifold (multi-faceted) wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10). It has a greater and more enduring purpose than simply helping people enjoy a better life here on earth. How unutterably sad it is when spiritually hungry people ask for a fish and are given a stone instead.
I love our new Kroger Marketplace and all that it has to offer. I love churches that are committed to Christ, to the practice of New Testament Christianity, and to the mission that Christ gave to His disciples. That mission is clearly spelled out in Matthew 28:18-20.
August 1: Green Hill Church of Christ, Mount Juliet,TN
August 5: Madison Street Church of Christ,Clarksville, TN ("Family & Friends" Day) (morning and afternoon)
August 5: Neelys Bend Church of Christ, Madison,TN (P.M. only)
August 8: Meades Chapel Church of Christ,Nashville, TN
August 12: Science Hill Church of Christ, Readyville,TN (P.M. only)
July 31, 2012