This devotional has been adapted from my new book, "Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, & Do" - available today!
I have a confession to make: I'll occassionally shop at Macy's. If I go to the department store looking for a certain color and style of shirt and they have it, they'll get my business for the day. If they don't have what I'm looking for, I'll leave with no guilt whatsoever and walk to the next clothing store that may have my preference in stock.
That consumer behavior makes sense when it comes to clothing, but sadly, I've discovered that hordes of Christians have the same mentality when it comes to church. We, like shoppers, chase the deal of the moment. Maybe it's the celebrity preacher, the hip Saturday night worship or the most social youth program in town.
We've developed into a high-expectation and low-commitment church culture. Sure, we'll put a little money in the plate, volunteer occassionally at a ministry event and exchange superficial prayer requests with one another, but we're not radically committed to the local church like the New Testament describes.
Why this passivity? It's not because the local church has a problem; it's because we as worshippers have a problem. Specifically: an AWE problem.
Colossians 3:1-2 says, "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." I think many of us, myself included, have neglected to set our minds on things that are above when it comes to local church fellowship and ministry.
Whether we recognize it not, we have attached our Christianity to the pursuit of the American Dream. We want success, financial stability, the big house, fancy meals and extravagant vacations. Rather than investing in the eternal treasures of the kingdom of God through the vehicle of the local church, most of our physical, emotional and spiritual energy is drained on "the things that are on earth."
But if our hearts are being progressively captured by the awe of God, his work, his grace and his kingdom - "things that are above" - we'll begin to see our local church not just as a place we attend, but as a major commitment in our life. We'll take studying the Bible seriously; we'll take giving seriously; we'll take relationships seriously; we'll take ministry opportunities seriously. Our hearts, minds and hands will be set on that which is above.
One final thing - don't wait to develop your awe of God before investing in your local church. Notice how I phrased it above - "our hearts are being progressively captured." For the rest of our lives, we'll wrestle between living in awe of God and living in awe of the things on earth. But by grace, we've been raised with Christ and can experience victory today. Confess your struggle, quit shopping and start investing.
P.S. - If you're interested in learning more about how awe shapes everything you think, say and do, check out my newest book.
- In what ways have you been living as a spiritual shopper?
- How can you invest more in local church fellowship and ministry?
- Where else in life are you struggling to set your mind on things above and not on earth?