Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Kingdom of God and Hamburgers

I am neither Buddhist nor Hindu, but if I believed in reincarnation then surely my former life was that of Wimpy J. Wellington. It was Wimpy who uttered the immortal words; “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” I love hamburgers and consider myself quite a connoisseur of the beef patty between the bun. Mayo on the side, absolutely no ketchup or mustard, with cheese, please.

So this week I’m in Chennai and someone asks, “Have you been to Sparky’s? It’s worth visiting.”

I intended to just get a salad, trying to get my weight under control, but then I saw it on the menu…hamburger and fries. I was skeptical as this is not beef country. I have never had a good hamburger in India, not even in a five star hotel, as the beef is not Angus but water buffalo. But alas, I couldn’t resist.

On the burger scale, the worse being 1 and best 10, the Sparky burger was 3.5 -- the fries counting for the half point bump. You just can’t make buffalo taste like good old USDA ground round. The bun, also key for quality taste, was a bit doughy.

In spite of the burger bust, I give the restaurant a solid 10 for atmosphere and purpose. For an American living overseas there is nothing like being in a home atmosphere. At Sparky’s there are license plates from every state in the union, banners of US colleges, classic Rock-N-Roll music, lots of nostalgia Americanism on the walls. They tell me the owner has been shopping on eBay for four years to decorate his diner. As for purpose, the guy who started the eatery is with an outreach organization. All profits above cost from this highly successful enterprise goes into funding orphanages and youth programs.

Most serious Christian businessmen I’ve met see their function in the Body of Christ in a support role. They don’t see themselves as church planters, teachers or social workers. Rather, they recognize the importance of their gifts in business to help others who have that calling to accomplish their task. Different from non-Christian businessmen, whose focus is only about making money and taking care of their families, these unique, and surprisingly few, people are focused on using their talents to support the Kingdom as well as their own.

There are many things a person can do overseas that does not require them to understand Greek, Hebrew or know the meaning of soteriology. While you’re waiting on a call from God, how about just doing something you’re gifted in, like being a chef, starting a computer business or a health club. Nothing wrong with being salt and light while at the same time working alongside those have taken on the Kingdom business as a fulltime profession. Life does not end or begin at the doors of a seminary; it may be as close as the entrance of a hamburger joint.

I hope to get back to Sparky’s and try their most popular menu item, according to one of the waitresses, chicken fried steak. I guess if you add enough gravy it makes the buffalo taste better. I want to meet the owner. You can’t go wrong with a guy whose motto on the door reads, “Never Trust A Skinny Chef.”