So this Sunday saw a lot of emotional teenaged girls in attendance, here at First Covenant Church.
First off, we were able to drive up to Chicago and grab our daughter, Megan, to bring her back home for a couple of weeks, before she goes off to college in the Fall -- so it was Megan’s first week here for a while.
Second, Sarah Warren is scheduled to fly out this coming Friday to go live in Sweden for a full year -- which means that it was Sarah’s last week here for a while. We made sure that they could go out to lunch together and giggle a lot...
We also finished up our collection of school supplies for Harrison Public School’s incoming Kindergarten class, so a special “thank you” to all of you who so generously collected items for the students over the past several months. Most of the children and their families will probably never know who it was that provided them the supplies, and that’s okay -- the most important thing is that we were able to minister in a tangible way to people who really needed our help, and that’s enough. You never know how just the simple things are going to effect the people around you.
Actually, we talked a little bit about that in our message this week. Last time, we chatted about how even driving your car can be an act of worship, if you follow traffic laws because you consciously want to honor God. This week, we talked about how even what you eat or what you drink can be an act of worship -- or can be something that destroys the very brother or sister that you should be trying to build up.
See, some people actually disagree about the best way(s) to honor God (go figure). One person may think that you should dress up for a worship service, since it’s something special. Another may argue that every day should be worshipful, so it’d be detrimental to dress up on Sunday as if it were something unique in your week. The fact is, how you dress isn’t anywhere near as interesting to God as the rationale for why you dressed that way. In this instance, both the one who dressed nicely and the one who didn’t dress up may have been doing the opposite of one another, but for the very same reasons -- namely, to consciously honor God as best as they know how. Thus, they should probably be encouraged by and encouraging one another, rather than tearing one another down over their differences.
The same is true of eating meat or not eating meat, drinking wine or not drinking wine, etc. Before you do or you don’t, stop and think about what your affirmation or prohibition is going to do to the brother or sister next to you. Are you (in your perceived strength) encouraging something that might make your brother stumble? Are you (in your possible weakness) condemning something that is genuinely God-honoring for your sister?
When you get right down to it, though the Book of Romans includes some of the deepest, richest theology in all of Scripture, the central argument that Paul has been making throughout the book isn’t really, ultimately about God -- it’s about us. From the first chapter, all the way through chapter 14, he’s been making the case that we tend to look at “them” and how “they” are doing things wrong... and somehow remain blind to what we ourselves are doing wrong in the process. We need to stop doing that, and start thinking about how every part of our lives is to be a “living sacrifice” to God, and how we should consider those around us and how we can build them up, rather than tear them down. “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone,” and “make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” In short, “seek peace and pursue it...”
So stopping and thinking before you just go ahead with even the seemingly “mundane” things of life can truly be an act of worship, if you’re stopping and thinking about the people whom God is trying to touch and heal through their interactions with your own life; if you’re making God’s priorities higher than your own priorities, because God is more important to you than your next hot dog or beer...