What Are We Doing at Church: Is it to Be Seen or Is it To Give Glory to God?

Posted: May 3, 2015 in Gospel of Luke
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Luke 20:45-47 — Why are we at church? What are we doing here? What is our purpose? Are we here to make political connections? Are we here to be at the trendy new place so we can be considered cutting edge? Are we here to be seen? Why do you serve? Will you go to men’s bible study in May this year because the pastor is leading it but will go no other time? Do you serve at community events because everybody else is going to be there? Do we serve at the soup kitchen because my life group is there or do you do it because you have a genuine concern for the poor? Do you give God the first 10% or more of your income, or do you give what you happen to have left in your wallet but yet count yourself among those who tithe when such things are mentioned? What are we here for? Why do we do this thing called church?

This was the question that Jesus asked of the religious leaders. In most of Luke 20, the religious leaders have been trying to trap Jesus into saying something that would discredit his popularity among the people or get Him in trouble with the Romans. Jesus, being God in the flesh and possessing all knowledge, skillfully and perfectly answered all their questions and did so in ways that could not be disputed or used against Him. Now, it was His turn to turn the tables on the puffery of the religious leaders. He warns anyone who will listen about the hypocrisy of the leaders. They love their position. They enjoy all the benefits that accrue to these leaders. The finest seats at public festivals and banquets. They pontificate great public prayers. They say all the right things. They do all the right public displays. However, at the same time, they compromise their beliefs to ensure that the Romans do not remove their ability to run Israel. They live lavishly off the contributions and taxes of the temple. They manipulate temple revenue to make sure that they have everything that they want. If there was a choice of providing for the poor and providing for or increasing their already lavish wealth, they would cheat the poor in a skinny minute. They had the appearance of holiness and respectability but inside they were deceit and greed.

As we read this passage here in the 21st century, we sit and say, “Yeah, what Jesus said! Go get ’em Jesus. Rip ’em a new one! Those hypocrites!” Before we arrogantly and piously condemn the religious leaders of Jesus’ day when we was physically here on earth, what would Jesus say if he walked into our churches today? Would he find anything different than in this scene from the Temple some 21 centuries ago?

Jesus would probably find a lot of the same things. Many of us pick our churches for what they can do for us and our kids rather picking a church because it speaks the truth of the gospel and lives it out. Many of us choose our churches because of the political or business connections that we can make there. Many of us clamor for the preacher’s favor because it somehow gives us greater stature within the church when we get it. Many of us increase our giving only when the pastor mentions it because it is important to be seen responding to what the preacher says but when the spotlight is off, we return to our normal anemic giving, the leftover 20 dollar bill in our wallet. Many of us serve on Sunday to be seen serving. Many of us won’t serve in any kind of continuing ministry during the week because it is only serving on Sunday that people see us serving. Are we any different when we choose to live off 110% of what we make so that we can have the appearance of “having it all” rather than giving God the glory by living off of 90% or less than what we make? Are we any different when we attend church on Sunday but walk right by the homeless man on the corner? Are we any different when we drive to church in our BMW but fail to help out the single mother that we know is struggling? Are we any different when we choose a fancy vacation and use the excuse that we don’t have the money to go on a mission trip to help spread the gospel? Do you love going to life group because of the fellowship and the Bible study but are conveniently absent when it is time for the “off the couch” project at the orphanage, the soup kitchen, or sharing the gospel? Do we spend time studying and writing about the gospel in life group but yet never tell a soul at work about Jesus Christ? Do we say we want to serve the Lord but miss the opportunity because it would involve giving up the house, the boat and the cars? Where are our hearts? Where are our hearts? Where are our hearts, oh God? We are a shameful generation. Are we any different than the religious leaders of the first century that Jesus condemned for their puffed up pride and greed?

Let us examine ourselves. Help us to be real. Help us Father to have real and honest hearts. Help us to see that we are here to give you praise and glory. Help us to see that we are here to serve you. Help us to see that we are here to make your name famous. Help us to see that we are here to tell others of the love that you have for them and the outright danger they face in rejecting you. Help us to have a heart for you. Help us to see that regardless of what we do and how much we serve in public displays no matter how much we try, we are just sinners. We are incapable of being perfect. We are indeed incapable of gaining access to heaven by our deeds. We are lost and always will be even we try to differentiate ourselves from others by our charitable acts and by our attendance at church. Nothing we can do is with merit in the face of our sins. We need Jesus. That is why we are here. Our service to Him is our thanksgiving to Him no matter who is looking. We give to the church because we know that it is God who gave us the talent to earn the money we make. We give 10% or more in thanksgiving and not caring who knows that we do. We do in thanksgiving for our salvation. We know who we are and that’s why we are here. We serve because it gives honor and glory to our Savior and we do it out of the overflow of thanksgiving in our hearts. That’s why we are here. We want to give Him glory for saving us. We serve Him because we are just so interested in others being drawn to the same Savior that we know. We witness because we can’t help it – others need to know the same joy that we know in our salvation. We serve when no one is watching because it is in our DNA to want to serve our Lord. Let our service to you oh Lord be real and not for show. Let us serve you when the job is thankless and no one will ever know we served you. Let us serve you because we love you, Jesus. Let us give you glory in everything that we do. Let us give you our all. Let us be all-in all the time even when no one is looking. Amen. And Amen.

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