I’ve seen people go great distances for sports. Sometimes, they will travel days to get to the stadium, or the playoff game, or whatever other event. They do the same for conventions (Comicon is an event people pay hundreds to go to, spend hundreds on costumes for, etc.). They will do this for relationships, for their kids, or spouses, or girlfriends or boyfriends. Yet when it comes to church, they come with expectations, and make every excuse to flee, if they can. Now, before you call me critical, think on it a moment:
People will go to football games, in the snow, take their shirts off, paint their bodies, and endure the game for hours. People will spend hundreds, if not thousands over the lifetime of their kids so that their kids will get to play on a travel team, and on sporting equipment, much of the time with hope and dreams of something greater in store for their children, though the statistical reality is quite different. We will travel for hours and miles and days for business, to build our kingdoms and empires, even sacrificing family time and personal blood, sweat and tears, on the hopes of being successful.
YET, when it comes to church, we don’t like going if it will take longer than 15 minutes, if the heating and air system isn’t what we desire, if they ask that our kids go to their own class and not sit in on the adult classes, if they don’t play the music we like, if they don’t (fill in the blank, I could do this all day). We go out of our way, to the ends of the earth, and sacrifice greatly if it will, in some way, benefit us. When it comes to God’s Church, though, we expect things to go our way, to be catered to, and make demands of the church goers, elders, deacons and preacher that we ourselves are not willing to place upon ourselves. Instead of seeking God’s holiness, we get caught up in seeking affirmation. Instead of the Holiness of God, we demand the edification of self.
Loved ones, Jesus came, and lived, and died to make us Holy, to restore us to the image of God that we were designed to be in the beginning. We have sinned, and destroyed that image, and Jesus lived as one of us, perfectly according to all of God’s standards, and died in our place, once for all making the sacrifice necessary to bridge the gap sin caused between us and God. He rose again, conquering our well deserved reward for sin, Death, giving us new life now, and perfection in the Resurrection. Jesus is our faithful high priest, sitting alive at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for the saints, and ruling in all power and authority. Jesus is returning some day as a King, a Judge and Conqueror. We have no rights before Him. None of our demands mean a thing, and we deserve death and eternity apart from Him.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying good things, or success, but pursue Christ. Everything else is temporary, and only Christ offers eternity. Pursue Jesus. Otherwise you’re going out of your way for things which will abandon you in the end, and none of it will come with you when you stand before Him.
“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”