Matthew 6:1-34 ESV
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”
I often wonder if being Christian has become a “trend” much like being into kale salads and going on the South Beach Diet or wearing a particular designer label or following a particular show on Netflix.
I wonder about these “Super Churches” or “Mega-Churches” that are the size of NBA stadiums or NFL football stadiums that seem to attract thousands to church services that seem more like rock concerts and dramatic theater productions.
But then I see how some pastors and preachers– basically televangelists– get on the air and basically turn the “spreading of The Word” into a well scripted, well choreographed production. I notice that some of these people have shares of stock in media companies, television stations, or broadcast networks. Some are running their ministries like a business– because it has become a business.
Has Christianity become an industry or a business? Have some preachers and pastors made it their business to “sell” you salvation and prosperity like it was merchandise or product? Have they somehow stepped in and promised to do what Jesus offered to do freely in return for $19.95 or some sum on easy payment plans?
Then I wonder and observe Christians that somehow want the world to know just how Christian they really are by putting on public displays of just how righteous they think they are or how abominable others are because they are not nearly as Christian and God-fearing as they are. And it makes me think how shallow Christianity has become when folks have to go out of their way to convince you that they are a good person or an upright person with some morals. They need the attention more than they need to simply do the right thing. It is as if all their moral values mean nothing unless they can somehow have the approval or respect of everyone around them first.
And that somehow if Christianity wasn’t this show… if people stopped paying attention to Christians, the fear is that Christianity will become this obscure, forgotten thing… or that Christianity will become forgotten or meaningless or just simply disappear.
Or… without the big show of just how awesome this Christian is, and without everyone’s admiration or attention or applause, somehow that person is no longer legitimate and his actions are hollow and meaningless. Or his value as a human being is less than.
Makes me wonder about just how self-centered and egotistical people have become for the sake of appearing to be “Christian”.
My feeling is that I don’t need to prove anything to anyone but God with regard to my faith or beliefs. Ultimately, it is His approval I would want. I don’t need to hold a press conference before I do a good deed daily. I don’t need pats on the back or merit badges or award ceremonies to make me feel like I have accomplished some great deed. Good should be fulfilling not because of stuff I am given or the praises of those around. I should seek to do good and follow Jesus’ model because 1) it is the right thing to do, and 2) it feels like the right thing to do, 3) I would want others to do for me as I would do for them.
I am not in this to be ahead of a trend or to be popular. I am not joining a club, for example. I am doing what I believe is the moral thing to do. Not for any material reward but because doing the right thing is what being humane and human should be about.