Everyone in my family is excited, because this is the first week of Morton’s annual Pumpkin Festival. Now, for those of you who don’t live in Morton, that may sound somewhere between quaint and an utter waste of time, but for lifelong Mortonites, it’s a fun time to celebrate family, home, and really good (bad-for-you) food. My kids have never missed a P-Fest parade -- even when we lived in another state, we came back for the P-Fest -- and they look forward to it every year.
Now, if we get that excited about a silly festival (or a Bears game, or a big movie premiere, or a _________), then why do we tend to be so... restrained when it comes to the things of God? We think that it’s a sign of being a good fan to be obsessed with our “thing” (whatever our “thing” is), but we sometimes think that it’s a sign of fanaticism to be overly excited about the things of God -- best just to show up on Sundays, speak quietly but positively about God when asked, and generally keep our “religion” a “personal thing,” to ourselves.
But Scripture’s pretty clear that our relationship with God was never intended to be simply a “personal thing,” an “internal thing,” or any other euphemism for “restrained.” It was meant to be tangibly lived out, actively lived out, consciously lived out. When he spoke of “pure” religion that truly honors God, James (the brother of Jesus) said, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). Now, that last bit covers a lot of territory, but that first chunk fairly clearly focuses “pure and faultless” religion on actively, consciously, tangibly, living it out amongst other people.
If being a Bears fan means anything to you, it’s going to show to all those around you. If being a Star Wars fan means anything to you, it’s going to show to all those around you. If being a God fan means anything to you, it’s going to show to all those around you. What kind of a faith has no tangible, outward expression? A dead faith (see James 2:17, 2:26). There’s a reason that Paul said that we could do the most amazing things in the world, but if we didn’t start with actively loving, then it’ll all be just so much empty noise (see 1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
If worship is all about telling God that He’s worth putting first, then that means that what matters to Him should be what matters to us. And the world mattered enough to Him that He was willing to give His only son to die on our behalf (see John 3:16). That means that everyone around us should be worth our active, conscious, tangible love -- if only because they’re worth that to the God who’s worth that to us. In this way (if you’re following the “math” here), our tangible, meaningful, genuine acts of love toward others -- toward all others -- should be conscious acts of worship toward God.
So how can you and I live out our worship today (and tomorrow, etc.) just a little more thoughtfully? Who needs your tangible love today?
Show that you’re more of a God fan than a _________ fan today...