The story is that Alexander the Great had a mistress named Campaspe. She was beautiful and he was proud of her, so proud, that he took her to the famous artist, Apelles, who painted her in the nude. Alexander loved this painting. He noticed something, though. The reason Apelles did such a good job at the painting, was because Apelles saw Campaspe’s beauty more clearly than Alexander did. Now you would think, Apelles would get in trouble for ogling the Great’s girl. But Alexander chose instead to give Campaspe to Apelles as payment for the painting, which he took home to his palace.
Now that would be just a fun story, if it weren’t for the fact that throughout the Renaissance, this was the gold standard for how patrons were supposed to reward their artists. Here I see an analogy for the way today’s church patronizes their best preachers. People will go to church and hear a sermon, which is a painting, so to speak, of how worthy God is of our worship.
“He (or she) loves God so much better than I do.”
They will, then, take home the sermon and leave the place of God’s worship to the artist of words who paints the reproduction of the faith we are all called to have.
This, I think, is what is really wrong with the church.