Just a little controversy for this entry i keep on thinking for some time now. Jesus thought his disciples about the importance of serving sacrificially. Known are verses on giving a life for a friend, turning the other cheek, forgiving seven times seventy, loving our enemies, etc. One of the important teachings for me, speaking on the subject of sacrificial service in not so direct way, was Jesus remarks to the Pharisees. In His rebukes to this group of publicans, his disciples could hear something of the valuable teaching for themselves.
Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth; they have received their reward in full. 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. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth; they have received their reward in full. (Mt 6:1-5)
There are numerous examples of Christian leaders of today who are in an ongoing pursue of titles, positions, recognitions, board memberships, a pin, a plaque or a medal. More titles – larger impact they seem to be projecting to this world, is it not? People are a kind of delighted if specially honored in a church meeting, or other occasion, especially public. I see so many libraries in Christian training institutions with the publicly displayed names of the donors. I see worship services on TV showing people praying, and then aggressively soliciting funds for the ministry, even bending the Bible verses to make a point, while donor names are publicly recognized, streaming to all viewers from the screens of this global ‘altar’ of today.
Sometimes having a title could be justified with fundraising issues and cultural circumstances – for in order to discuss ministry support one needs to be at level with another, etc. While I understood the intention, I am sorrowed by “Christian” environment that brought us to this position. Is it just the convenience of using such titles or it is something else here? Are we stealing ourselves the ‘pay’ that we should receive in heaven?
Are we always watchful of an opportunity, seeking the Carpe Diem situations (Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero – “Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the future”)? Are we looking for a more comfortable seat in airplane, a more juicy salad, a line with fewer customers waiting, this year’s model of a cell phone, a latest software upgrade? What about 15 different Bibles sitting on our shelves? Problem I see in me is that I grow older but not wiser. I keep on doing the same mistakes, constantly rearranging priorities to accommodate my present perceived material needs.
I believe we ought to be watchful of our attitude about this issue daily. If you have not done so recently, check yourself. I am afraid some of us might be surprised by the intensity of this matter in our lives, even if we do not pay any attention to it, not any more (for most of us) nor church teaches nowadays about these verses. In Jesus rebuking of some religious practices of the day, we have an important teaching and this was not only for the Twelve.