Although the major supermarkets appear to have a stranglehold on the grocery shopping habits of many, it would seem that there is still a place for the smaller retailer. Indeed, some retailers are making a success of the last-minute, convenience market. In the hectic round of life many are thankful for someone who provides what they need, close by, and until late at night. However, this editorial is not a forum for the discussion of the shopping habits of the British public, but what it does indicate is the type of thinking that made the situation described in our text a reality. Instead of preparing, examining, and then bringing your sacrificial animal to the temple for your offering, wouldn’t it be better if there were animals already there? Wouldn’t it be much more convenient if someone else could do all the checking so that all you needed to do was arrive, purchase, and then hand over your animal to the priest? Convenience marketing was just as significant in 1st century Jerusalem as in 21st century Britain!
Sadly, it is all too possible to adopt a similar approach to church life. We turn up occasionally, at the last minute, occupy a seat, and then leave as soon as we can. We might call it ‘convenience Christianity’. We bring nothing, offer nothing, and expect to receive everything. If these comments seem rather harsh, we need to look around the mega-church phenomenon, and ask what makes it successful in attracting vast numbers. One aspect seems to be that such groups have successfully switched the focus of church life. They seek to offer everything that the busy Christian might want. All that is needed is to turn up, enjoy the experience, and leave when you want.
In contrast, the Bible places significant emphasis upon corporate Christian testimony, and what it means to God – a company where God’s word is revered, God’s will is done, and God’s name is honoured. New Testament Christianity is demanding. It is not what I get out of church but what I contribute to the corporate worship of God through my own private preparation and study. The challenges are great. The commitment needed is total. The cost is significant. Is this possible in 2014? Let us all measure what God asks of us, and compare it with what He has done for us!
In this magazine, we conclude the centre page articles in Daniel chapter 9. We thank Andrew Wilson for his detailed study, comparing and contrasting the different views of this passage which is critical to an understanding of prophetic truth. We also have some writers who are providing their first article for us. We express our sincere thanks to all our authors, new and old, and trust that in this magazine, as in each of them, there will be food for all the Lord’s people.