Have you ever seen a price tag on an item that you just knew had to be wrong? Maybe, it was a ridiculously low price on an item you knew cost a lot more than was listed. I have had this happen to me a number of times and when I tried to buy the item at the price tag value, I was told that it was in fact a mistake. "Someone switched the price tags."
Just because there may be a price tag on an item doesn't necessarily mean that that is the item's true value. Someone may have switched the price tags. I think this can be used as a good analogy for the local church. Somewhere along the way, we put price tags on our theologies. The question then becomes, are these values the true values or have we switched the price tags? Do we have a cheap price tag on something of high value or do we have a high price tag on something of low value? In other words, are we placing the same value on things as God does?
For example, what does God find more important - the way we worship or the way we treat injustice? Does God care more about the style of our services, or the help we give to the poor? Does He care about whether I am charismatic or conservative in my worship style or does He watch how I treat the outsiders, the down and out, the lost and wounded?
I know it might be easy to answer the above questions in your mind. "Of course, He cares more about the lost and the hurting and the poor than He does about my style of worship." But do our actions reflect we understand the true values of these theologies?
I have to admit, my actions as a pastor have not reflected I understand the true values of these aspects of our faith. In fact, I think I have switched the price tags. I have placed a higher value on how we worship than I have on who we worship. At times, I have put more emphasis in time and energy, into how we do church than I have in who we are supposed to be impacting. Don't get me wrong, there is still value in how we do church, I just have placed too much value in this area and not enough in reaching the hurting and destitute.
I have recently become convicted by this passage in Amos 5: 21-24 (Message Bible). Look at how God is tells His people they had switched the price tags.
“I can’t stand your religious meetings. I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals. I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations and image making. I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to me? Do you know what I want? I want justice—oceans of it. I want fairness—rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want."
Justice is a Biblical term for defending the defenseless. God says in Amos 5 that he places more value on his people defending the defenseless than he does on the spit and polish of our services and conferences. These things are valuable and should be done with excellence, don't get me wrong, they are just not as valuable as helping the poor, defending the abused, protecting the broken, healing the hurting. This is where God places His highest value. Remember, what James said in James 1:27?
"Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world."
What if the church took it's place as the hope of the world again? What if we became the hands and feet of Jesus for justice on the planet? What if we switched the price tags back? What would change?
Question: Have you switched the price tags? What should we do about this in our churches? Please leave your comments in the "Leave a Reply" box below.
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