Picture me leaving for church one Sunday. After a quick breakfast, I was heading out the door when my wife noticed the grape jelly on my jaw that I missed when I brushed my teeth. She also noticed the jelly on my collar which I apparently moved from my cheek when I used my wrist/hand to clean the spot. I know, you’re asking, “where was the napkin?” Well, I wasn’t using one. For some of us guys, our hand/wrist still works.
What would I have done if my wife had not stopped me at the door? I guess I might have shown up at church looking a little jelly-ish, huh? I generally do not ignore a mess on me (or around me), and pretend no one will notice. Let’s be honest. Most of us would rather be late to church or work than be caught wearing their breakfast.
Picture me leaving for church one Sunday. I’m going to worship the Most Holy Being in the Universe. I’m going to hear my pastor deliver the Holy Scriptures to my head, my heart, and my hands. I’m going to give and receive ministry with other brothers and sisters in the faith community I participate in.
But I have a mess hanging over me. I may have had a fight with my wife and we had not reconciled yet. I allowed the conflict I caused to fester, I have not dealt with it, and we have not spoken in days. Or maybe I am carrying the burden of some work-related stress that I have not shared with anyone.
One Saturday evening, my wife comes to me and apologizes for the tension we have been experiencing. She says she is sorry for being impatient with me. Her words have a powerful impact on me, because I know that I am really the one at fault. But I am humbled and challenged because she took initiative before I did. She took a courageous step to face and clean off the mess before going to church the next day.
Read Matthew 5:21-24.
Picture Jesus stating the words that Matthew recorded in the first century. When we come before God in worship, we need to be aware of the stakes. It’s time to stop fooling around and to stop fooling ourselves. Hypocrites are not what God is looking for, even though He works with each of us as we work to align our words and actions in order to honor Him. It sure does take a while for the alignment, but He is patient with us.
God is not deceived by nice sounding words or a holy-looking exterior when we show up at His house. He knows our hearts. Ouch. That is startling, isn’t it? But it is true. That is why Jesus told His followers to make things right with others, to reconcile with others we have hurt, and clean up the damage before coming to the Lord in worship.
What mess (i.e., conflicts) in your life is the Holy Spirit bringing to your mind? What are you willing to do about them? Who is the Lord using to help you address them?
Live communally. Before we approach God, let’s be sure that we’re not covered with the mess of past or present hurts that we have caused or been subject to. With His help, and that of others, we can come clean with God before we come to worship Him.
Love is a verb,
©2017 by Mike Olejarz