I cannot begin to tell how many times I hear people suggest market studies and member questionnaires etc in order to determine what types of ministries and programs a Church should offer. On the surface this sounds harmless enough, especially in our American democratic society. But taken to its logical conclusion, this philosophy of “give them what they want” is akin to allowing clay to dictate to the potter.
This was the gist of Saint Paul’s words in today’s readings. He is challenging us to consider that we are clay in the hands of God. The section is short so I’ll post is here:
But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?" Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? – Romans 9.20-24
Saint Paul was addressing the friction between the Jewish and Gentile member of the Church. So what if God chose to allow the Gentiles into His Church? It IS His Church after all. Saint Paul continues quoting the Prophet Hosea
As He says also in Hosea: "I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people,' There they shall be called sons of the living God. – Hosea 2.23
Saint Paul is speaking to us today as well. So what if God has chosen to allow “those other people” into His Church? WE are the ones who are expected to be shaped by God not the other way around. If we don’t like what God has called for in His Church, then it isn’t the Church that must change, it is US. The danger is in our refusal to accept this paradigm. We may find ourselves outside the gates of the Church and therefore outside the gates of Heaven. Our only hope is in the Lord of mercy. “He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.” (Romans 9.18)