Being the Consumer Rather than the Producer

We successfully ventured out strategically yesterday on Black Friday. We targeted very specific needs: Tree, lights, a few grocery items. We hit stores that weren’t busy. Even when we ventured out a second time (cell phone, speakers) we found quiet little places.

Whew.

We go crazy on this stuff. Everyone has their strategy for Black Friday. Ours is laying low.

What we need to be mindful of is the temptation to allow a consumerist mentality invade our Kingdom allegiance. It’s a debate as to go crazy on Black Friday or not. What shouldn’t be a debate is whether or not we allow that same spirit into our lives as believers.

Too often we carry a consumer mentality right into church. That attitude is seen in Malachi.

13 “You have spoken arrogantly against me,” says the Lord.

“Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’

14 “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? 15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.’” (Mal. 3:14-15, NIV)

What good is it to serve God? That’s the question.

“Why serve him when it doesn’t serve us?”

That’s the consumerist mentality. We need to be careful.

Last week I spoke in chapel at North Central University and I mentioned that the danger of American Christianity is we are lazy. I don’t mean that ministers are lazy. I mean that, as ministers, we often work so hard to deliver a “product” that other believers can “enjoy” we feed into the system of making other believers lazy. They don’t have to do anything other than sit back and enjoy the show.

We need to be cautious in how we approach God. Serving the King isn’t about what he brings to the table and then we see if we like the offer.

Israel made the mistake of asking, “What’s in it for me?”

Let’s watch our own hearts in this season… and every season.

Get Away from Sloppy Worship

6 A son honors a father,
and a servant honors his master.
But if I’m a father, where is my honor?
Or if I’m a master, where is my respect?
says the Lord of heavenly forces
to you priests who despise my name.
So you say, “How have we despised your name?”
7 By approaching my altar with polluted food.
But you say, “How have we polluted it[b]?”
When you say, “The table of the Lord can be despised.”
8 If you bring a blind animal to sacrifice, isn’t that evil?
If you bring a lame or sick one, isn’t that evil?
Would you bring it to your governor?
Would he be pleased with it or accept you?
says the Lord of heavenly forces. (Malachi 1:6-8, CEB)

The issue with Israel in Malachi was half-hearted worship. It was probably “no-hearted” worship. It was going through the motions.

When I was growing up, my particular church group loved to make fun of more liturgical churches because they repeated “vain words.” There was no heart in their worship.

It’s easy to point the finger the other way. What we need to realize is that is very easy for ANY of us to come with sloppy worship. We come with “polluted food” by our attitudes. We come with “polluted food” by our lack of preparation as we meet the HOLY ONE.

The very things we would not want someone doing if they came to OUR house… we do going into the house of God. We would be appalled with people coming to see us in our home, and then not talking to us. They would talk to everyone else in the house… all the other guests… but not us.

Imagine someone coming to your house (who you invited) and they arrived with fresh flowers… for another guest. Not you. Or, they arrived with wilted flowers.

“Oh, I bought these off a street vendor the other day and had them on my desk. I needed to get rid of them.”

Come to worship. Worship the One who has sought you out. Worship the One who has loved you with an everlasting love. Worship him. Not with your leftovers. Not with last week’s effort. Love him fully. Give him the present of your presence.