Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Beyond the Scorecard

One great danger to the spiritual life is to see it in terms of a scorecard. We can see living for God in terms of the number of activities we are involved in and the number of events we attend. If I do enough things, show up at enough meetings, hold enough offices, then I am spiritual. This can take different forms in churches or groups and can involve many different types of activities: teaching a small group, singing in the choir, engaging in evangelistic activities, going to committee meetings, being there every time the church door is open. All of these can be good in their own context, but it is a mistake to see any of them by themselves as an evidence of spirituality. And to do so can turn one's life into an endless round of activities, with little or no spiritual substance. It can result in infant believers being thrown into the struggle with little or no spiritual foundation. And the result can be spiritual and emotional burn-out.

When a person put their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 4:4,5; Philippians 3:9), God begins to work in their lives to change them (2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:11-14). But the basic thing God wants to build is genuine Christian character  (Galatians 5:22,23; 2 Peter 1:5-9; Matthew 22:36-40). Now this character, once it is developed will encourage us to behave in certain ways. But we can try to produce a spirituality that is superficial, based on external behavior. And ultimately it can become something we go through to try to please other people (Galatians 1:10; Matthew 6:1-18; 23:25-28). This is one of the reasons people tend to prefer this approach. It makes it easier to keep score and determine where we stand in relation to others. It also fits in with seeing people as a resource to make the church organization run. If we can get people to fill the necessary slots and do the necessary activities, it will make our system work. And we can ignore the attitude in which it is done. But God is more interested in the heart attitude than the outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7; Hebrews 4:12,13; Romans 2:16). And He does not want things to be done simply to make the organization run, but to build each other up (Hebrews 10:24,25; 1 Corinthians 14:26; 13:1-3).

This means we need to make some hard choices. We need to ask, "Is this activity I am involved in helping me to grow spiritually or meeting the needs, spiritual or physical, of others?" If not, we should consider dropping it. Now there are things that can help people at second remove. Helping count the offering may meet the pastor's physical needs and help pay the bills to keep the building open, which is hopefully a benefit to the congregation. But doing thing just to be doing things, because it looks spiritual, is a mistake.

No comments:

Post a Comment