Topic: Responsibilities IV: Don’t Be Lukewarm In Ministry
Series: The Simpsons
Episode: "In Marge We Trust" (The Simpsons)
Lesson PDF link: 26d.pdf
This lesson is about the subject of caring for fellow man, or in this case, the lack thereof. This is the first full length Simpsons episode used. For this lesson, I use the episode In "Marge We Trust" in the form of clips. Unfortunately, this episode has one bad word in it and a lie in the middle of it (explained in the lesson), but the episode makes a very stinging point about a lukewarm church, lukewarm people, and the ineffectiveness thereof.
Scriptures Used Include: Revelation 3: 1-6, 14-22; Luke 10: 25-37; and Revelation 3: 7-13.
This lesson is going to be unusual in the fact that there is some questionable content in this lesson’s cartoon. There is a very moderate amount of bad language (cussing) in this episode. Homer tells a fib or two as well. There is no doubt that this stuff is wrong but this would take the focus away from the lesson’s meat, also there is a sidestory about "Mr. Sparkle" dishwasher detergent which needs to be really ignored. So, this stuff aside, we are talking about lukewarm ministry and its dangers. This episode contains strong truth in it and the Bible meshes with the message tightly.
What do you think that ministry is supposed to be like? What kind of witness do you have in your life and especially if we are talking about Christian life? Have you found your priorities needing a tune-up? Have you ever failed to care?
(To watch the whole thing as an option, or to do it first and then look at the clips, here is a link to the whole episode)
Entire Cartoon Show: "In Marge We Trust" (The Simpsons):
Clip #1 of "In Marge We Trust" (The Simpsons):
In the beginning of this episode, we see that the "First Church Of Springfield" looks to be lukewarm because its pastor (Lovejoy) has stopped really caring and that no one really wants to be there (falling asleep in the pews). Everyone is probably glad to get out of there. Would you like to go to a church like this? This pastor looks burnt out on caring. God has sent help in the form of Marge though she took over counseling duties because the pastor sees that she cares which is more than he can say for himself.
Clip #2 of "In Marge We Trust" (The Simpsons):
In this section of the episode, we see two things. First, the truth is revealed about the church in this cartoon. God is not a part of this church because of the lack of caring by the pastor. This means that the church is spiritually empty. Second, we see that Marge (however well intending) cannot solve everything and has a problem. Do you have any advice for her (what would you do)? Before we get to our last segment, let’s have a Bible study.
The Bible Study for this section of the lesson is in Revelation 3: 1-6, 14-22.
The Bible States:
Rev 3:1 "To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
Rev 3:2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.
Rev 3:3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
Rev 3:4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.
Rev 3:5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.
Rev 3:6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
The Bible States:
Rev 3:14 "To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.
Rev 3:15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!
Rev 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm— neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Rev 3:17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
Rev 3:18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
Rev 3:19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
Rev 3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
Rev 3:21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Rev 3:22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
Thus far, why do you think that the church in this cartoon matches Sardis and Laodicea? Do you have advice for the pastor (angel) of this church? Have you been lukewarm in your witness? Let’s continue our cartoon to its conclusion.
Clip #3 of "In Marge We Trust" (The Simpsons):
What do you think about the zookeeper? The zookeeper should have read his Bible better.
The Bible States in Luke 10: 25-37:
Lk 10:25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Lk 10:26 "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
Lk 10:27 He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Lk 10:28 "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
Lk 10:29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
Lk 10:30 In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.
Lk 10:31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.
Lk 10:32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
Lk 10:33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.
Lk 10:34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.
Lk 10:35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
Lk 10:36 "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
Lk 10:37 The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
Before this, it appears that Lovejoy is kind of like the priest and the zookeeper like the Levite. They are concerned about their jobs or saying ‘it’s not my problem’.
Well, it looks as if Pastor Lovejoy learned his lesson (maybe not the zookeeper). Speaking of Lovejoy and his church however, one can only hope that it would stay that way and get stronger. If this were a real church and pastor, we can infer that the pastor has repented and is serving God again.
Now, this cartoon church may be more like Philadelphia and not Sardis or Laodicea because this church looks to be redeemed but weak at this point.
The Bible States in Revelation 3: 7-13:
Rev 3:7 "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
Rev 3:8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
Rev 3:9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.
Rev 3:10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.
Rev 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
Rev 3:12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.
Rev 3:13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Do you know of any churches/ministries that are lukewarm or maybe even just weak but redeemed that need prayed over to become good or better servants? What can you take from this to help you become a good servant of our Lord Jesus Christ?