Today’s Reading: Acts 13:29 NIV
29 [Paul said,] “When they had carried out all that was written about Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb.”
What do you like to do just for fun? When Jeff was in seminary, the city theater offered dollar night tickets to pastors and their families in town. We were able to go to the dollar show every Friday night and enjoy watching all the new releases. Some of the new films were not worth the dollar we paid for admission, and yet, we called it our date night out and ignored what our minds were consuming. It was only after our children began to go with us to the theater that we became painfully aware of our own poor movie choices.
It just doesn’t seem right to go into a theater and not indulge in a little junk food. My favorite snack is hot buttered popcorn with a cold diet soda. I know this is really bad for my body, but that doesn’t always stop me from eating it. Do you ever choose to consume the things that you know will hurt you? Whenever I choose to indulge, I become a junk food junkie by default.
It would seem that a public crucifixion brought some sick sort of entertainment value for many families living in and near the city gates. Many came just for the spiritual entertainment being served. I’m sure that the brutality and suffering of one convicted felon was publicly displayed to instill a bold lesson about the consequences of disobedience. Yet, it would seem that many came to the hill just to participate in the sadistic sport of it. I cannot imagine having to watch someone die such a cruel death, or sitting in the stands, cheering and jeering while watching another human being getting pinned to that shameful tree. Some of the religious rulers may have felt it was spiritually uplifting to see convicted sinners punished for their crimes. Would their insatiable appetite of this tasteless spiritual junk food somehow cover the sins that were hidden in their own hearts?
Spiritual junk food junkies can get trapped in the ritual, while missing the message. We can see ourselves falling into a spiritual spiral when we attend church just to be seen, and not really to worship. People come to church for many reasons. We go to be entertained, enjoying a time of singing and dancing with a great praise band; we consume all of the spiritual pats on the back spoken by our preacher, and leave feeling a whole lot better about ourselves. We begin to consume spiritual junk food, thinking our token offerings are enough to please the Lord God Almighty. You see, worship is so not about you – it is all about glorifying the Father who sees your heart and knows you better than you know yourself! It is a time for repentance and heartfelt prayer, confession of sin, and asking for God’s mercy and grace. This is the time to be brutally honest with God, to see and care more about the needs of those who surround us, and choosing to do something about it; this is the time to begin life anew with the Lord. If we are too busy getting caught up in the church’s entertainment value, we are choosing to swallow a whole new menu of spiritual junk food. It will permanently scar our bodies, minds and souls. Don’t let it consume you!
Here are some of the spiritual junk foods I have swallowed whole and without hesitation in my own life: half-hearted worship; reciting memorized prayers with no personal investment in the recitation of the words; refusing to put Christ first in my life in the giving of time, talent and treasure; reading the Scriptures without truly consuming His Word; making excuses for my bad behaviors by pointing my own forked finger at someone else’s sin. What kinds of spiritual junk food have you allowed yourself to eat?
Worship, study and prayer is not an option – it is God’s commandment for all His creation. We need to stop playing church and be the Church that Jesus Christ has called us to be. Sugar coating His Word and helping people feel good about who they are is not the purpose of the Church. Let go of the spiritual junk food you’ve been eating and let us worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth! Help us, Jesus!
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
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