December 23, 2015
I attended 3 church services this past Sunday. Three different services at three different churches. Are you impressed? Don’t be, God isn’t. It just worked out that I had the opportunity to do this. I kiddingly told my family that if I am in church all day maybe the Steelers would win a tough matchup…..and they did!! Perhaps I am on to something here! 🙂 God loves football, right?
Three opportunities to sing Christmas carols, three opportunities to give an offering, three opportunities to participate in corporate prayer, three opportunities to hear Scripture, three opportunities to be challenged, three opportunities to see old friends and make new ones. Everything churchy in triplicate.
Three different environments produced some similar experiences; some different. There were hugs and tears. Worship and isolation. Some pinching myself because I almost fell asleep and some WOW! Some amazing praise songs and even some gossip.
Just because I physically sat in 3 different churches, doesn’t mean I was mentally present at any of them. I can look like I am taking notes about the message, but I am really making my “Christmas to do” list. Anyone else guilty? (No judgment here.) While I may be able to fake out my fellow worshippers, God isn’t fooled. He doesn’t keep church attendance records. But He does look deep into my heart and does a heart check. He looks past my church face and my church posture to deep within my heart. That is so humbling and also very scary.
So if God isn’t impressed with my trifecta of church attendance, what does impress Him?
Maybe it was reaching an item on a high shelf last night in Walmart for the elderly lady who asked for my help. Maybe what impresses God is how I speak to my husband and how I listen to him when he is speaking. Maybe it is remembering to pray for others during this season saturated with me-me-me.
Maybe what impresses God is who we are when no one else is watching. Who are we when someone crosses our path unexpectantly? I believe God is impressed with every loving word, every kind act, every breath prayer, and every offer of forgiveness. According to Colossians 3:12, I need to keep offering compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. When no one is watching, because He is watching.
Jesus told a great story to some people who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance (church attendance might fall in this category) and looked down their noses at the common people. (My interpretation of Luke 18:10-14 from The Message follows.) The first man was a Pharisee who put on a “show” for everyone to see and therefore assumed he had impressed God. Instead, he shamed God and embarrassed himself. He climbed up on his soap box and posed. He was all about himself.
But the other man, a tax collector, slumped in the shadows with his face in his hands and cried out, “God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.” God was impressed. There was an audience of One and He was clapping.
Walk Worthy and Merry Christmas!