It’s a refreshing feeling. Everything is back to normal. Stores are open. The house is back in order. The radio DJ’s I know are back on live and all the ‘best of/syndication’ is finished. Traveling is behind me, business hours make sense again and my friends are all back in town. The commercials, the tv specials, the marketing… it’s all about spending money now. That fear of ordering in time or would I receive a gift from someone I didn’t consider? All gone!
Everything changes for the holidays and I usually sigh in relief when it all changes back. I wouldn’t call myself a scrooge… I just see the busyness and stress in all of it. My summary might be…
It was great, but I’m glad its over
Do you cringe any when you see the commercialization of Christmas? Do you see childhood memories and innocent ideals squashed by the machine and trivialized by the masses? Rudolph, Santa and Frosty all have price tags now and Baby Jesus is either left out or promoted with an agenda.
I think we can do this same exercise with church and our relationship with God if we aren’t careful. Sundays can quickly become about parking, childcare, awkward conversations, “I hope he doesn’t ask us to greet our neighbor for 5 minutes”. Whose seat did I take? Song choices are weird, sit down, stand up, I can’t find that verse in the Bible, sit down again, another offering?!!? Lunch plans, getting asked to serve, guilt trips… and when we find our way back home… wheh! That is all behind me now.
When Jesus turned the tables over in the temple He noted that His Father’s house was being operated by a bunch of thieves. But before He called out their transgression, He first stated the original intent.
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers Matthew 21:13
“My house shall be called a house of prayer”. What a contrast! It would have worked had He just called them robbers and drove them out, but He first established the proper baseline. This place is for prayer. Prayer is communication and worshiping THE God. You have taken something Holy and made it into something human.
While I’m not writing this to call us all thieves… I do see us approaching our time of worship against the original intent. I know this easily because I have done it.
What if we decided to approach the church with the same humility, love, and sacrifice that Jesus approached the cross for us?
Could we simply change some verbiage? I don’t have to lead a prayer or pass out cards, or shake hands, or smile, or meet new people, or teach a class… I get to. I am honored to. A man climbed on a torture device that I deserve and He took my place because He desperately wanted me to be saved.
He didn’t just die for me… I was His prize. He cherished a relationship with me. The thought of not having me was worse than the pain of the cross. He longs for me. When Jesus was born into animal filth and the cruelty of this world, the angels cheered! His plan was in motion… the plan to get me to Him.
So can my response match His? Can I muster together activity in my heart that will allow me to reciprocate in this life a desire to be with Him?
When my six year old gets vegetables on his plate he eats what he likes and then claims he is full. If I offer chocolate, he invariably exclaims, “YES!”. But he was just full one second ago. And, if I return to the vegetable, he is still full. He has no desire for what is good for him, only for what his appetite enjoys.
He has to want to be healthy. He has to learn about what harming his body with junk can really do. He will never truly be healthy… he will always return to the bad food, as long as his thought process is… ‘I have to eat vegetables to get what I want”.
What he needs is a love of himself. A love for health and purity and for what the body was created to take in and process. What we need is a love for Christ. A desire for the bread of life and to yearn to be what we, as temples of the Holy Spirit were created to be.
This can easily be checked. Do we have to… or do we get to? Is it a task or an honor? Do we anticipate, or are we glad when it’s over? Do we come to pray, or have we commercialized religion?
Some of the trivial things will not change, but our outlook on them certainly will. Christ gave His all… His very best. Do we have to give back? Do we cringe when we give a tenth? Do we roll our eyes or sigh when the newsletter announces service days? Are we proud of the response to our Savior? Can we go to simply pray to our Savior and commune with Him… or do we have another agenda?