Tag Archives: attendance
One of my favorite things about living in the Bible belt is church signs. Seriously, you can tell a lot about a church by what they put up on their sign. You can also unfortunately find out what is really important to a church. Now I know that lots of them are cheesy and make you laugh as you drive by but occasionally you see straight up bad theology. Right there on the church sign for all to see. The last one that I remember adding to my frustration was one I saw in St. Louis Missouri while on a youth spring break trip, and it said “THE BEST PRESENT WE CAN GIVE GOD IS OUR PRESENCE”. This sign sends fire rushing from the top of my head to my fingertips, and unfortunately although lots of churches may not have thought to put it on their sign, its sentiment is true inside their building. They really and truly believe that God simply desires their presence.
Now for the record I grew up going to church. I grew up going to youth group, and college group and the BCM. I haven’t missed ten Sundays in the past twelve years and as committed as I am to attending worship, I can boldly tell you that God doesn’t care! I can practically see the hair standing up on the back of some of your necks as you read this, hang with me and at least let me explain my point before you slam the computer shut muttering heretic, hear me out. The statement that God is worried about my worship attendance is a horrendously selfish statement. It puts all the importance on my behavior, it makes me the focal point not God. The actual major faulty thinking with that particular way of thinking is that we have anything to offer God, a “present” that we can give Him as a sign of our love. We don’t.
It’s in these churches that we often hear the phrase “we give our best to God”. These statements are usually in reference to why we put on our suit and tie and nice shoes, tuck in our shirts, and iron our slacks before we step foot in “God’s House”. At the risk of sounding like a young rebellious pagan; God doesn’t care what your wearing! I hate to be the one to break it to you but your best, whatever it may be, is not good enough. Paul addresses this issue in the letter to the Phillipians:
“4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—”
Paul starts out listing his spiritual resume, he was of the Israelites, devout in their customs, a Pharisee (expert in Jewish law), he lists his passionate zeal for the law to the point of helping stone Stephen, and this list climaxes in his claim that he was blameless under the law. He is basically saying, “Look, if anyone thinks they have a reason for God to be pleased with them based on who they are or what they have done. I’m better.” But then he goes on to say that he counts all those things as “rubbish” in light of knowing Jesus. The Greek word for “rubbish” is skybalon which is defined in the Strong’s concordance this way:
1) any refuse, as the excrement of animals, offscourings, rubbish, dregs
a) of things worthless and detestable
Poop. That’s what Paul says his best is in light of the righteousness that is found only in God. The point Paul is making is that you simply aren’t good enough to please God. He goes on to straight up say that in Romans 8:8:
“Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Your best is simply not sufficient to make God pleased with you. You have no presents to offer him, you have “rubbish”. No amount of Sunday attendance, Wednesday attendance, summer camps, disciple nows, quiet times, or church clothes will make God love you more. All we have is grace that has been poured out by an infinitely compassionate God that displays his love for you every moment that he allows you to continue breathing. A God who by the way doesn’t want your gifts he demands your life.
Have you been guilty of trying to earn God’s approval? What’s the hardest thing to believe about this truth?