A tense cloud hovered above the desk that separated us. Meeting in an aging office building in a small Romanian town, Dorian articulated a troubling reality about his organization: Nobody liked it.
I was in Romania to find a good microfinance organization. Friends of HOPE funded an exploratory trip to determine whether Romania would be a good place for us us to expand. With a presence nearby in Ukraine, Russia and Moldova; Romania was a natural next step for our expansion. Traveling the country by train for three months, I met with dozens of leaders to learn more about the needs of entrepreneurs and about the current resources that were available to them in their country. It was largely encouraging, but my meeting with Dorian gave me pause.
Dorian aired many grievances about his clients. His organization planned business training sessions and no clients show up. They offered business loans, but very few paid them back. They offered consulting services, but nobody was buying. Their clients didn’t like or value their products. That reality would normally prompt sympathy from me, not frustration. But I felt much more of the latter because of his closing remarks:
We’re sad that nobody is showing up for our training sessions or paying back their loans, but you know, we’re telling them about Jesus. And that’s all that truly matters.
Dorian’s comments contained a semblance of truth. I believe wholeheartedly that we need to share Jesus with those we serve. And in that light, Dorian’s enthusiasm about the gospel is admirable. But that’s where my agreement with him stops.
Slapping an ichthus on a jug of spoiled milk does not honor God. Searing a cross on a hamburger doesn’t make it taste like filet mignon. I don’t care how “Christian” your school is; if all your students fail, I’m not sending my kid there. We serve a God who created an earth that holds its axis and planets that hold their orbit. God articulated a breathtaking and precise blueprint for his tabernacle. And our God instructs us to do likewise, commanding we do our work with excellence.
Dorian spoke as if creating a substandard product was honoring to God simply because of the words he spoke. But Christian shoddy is still shoddy. Our creator demonstrated superb taste and strong attention to detail in his craftsmanship. When we ignore the needs of our customers, treat them with disdain and “ichthus-wash” it with spirituality, we do not reflect the full nature of our creator.