Backwards: A Dangerous Reading of Matthew 6

Warning: Objects in Mirror May Be Closer Than They Appear

The Setting: A Typical American Church

The Time: Sunday Morning

The Scene: A buzz fills the room as people exchange pleasantries. Football games are discussed. Lunch plans are made. The lead pastor/minister takes the stage.

“Good morning all! WE are so glad that YOU have chosen to worship with US today! WE know that YOU have a lot of choices on Sunday and that YOU could be doing so many other things, but YOU have chosen to be here with US today. YOU are OUR HONORED guests, so please stop by OUR visitor center so WE can get YOUR NAME and send YOU a welcome packet so WE can make sure that YOU feel welcomed.

“WE have a few announcements and things WE would like to celebrate IN FRONT OF ALL OF YOU awesome people who are here!

“First of all, WE would like to HONOR OUR youth group for all THEIR great work in raising money for [insert a worthy non-profit here]! THEY gave up AN ENTIRE AFTERNOON to raise money for people in [insert a third world country here], and THEY raised [insert an ‘impressive’ amount of money here]! Stand up, guys! Let’s give THEM a hand!”

[Applause]

“Isn’t it great when YOU see young people who are such amazing servants? YOUR parents should be honored for raising YOU so well. As a matter of fact, will the parents of those in the youth group that participated in OUR efforts here stand and let US show YOU how much WE appreciate the job YOU are doing!”

[Applause]

“Amen. Amen.

“A few other things. WE are having a prayer meeting out on the corner this Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. to dedicate OUR new building and WE would like as many of YOU as possible to be there! WE want our neighborhood to SEE a crowd of us out there! WE want to be noticed! We LOVE that! WE want them to SEE that there are still spiritual people left in this country!”

[Random clapping]

“Amen. Amen.

“And speaking of this building … isn’t it amazing?! OUR design team and building committee have really outdone THEMSELVES, and YOU made it all possible with YOUR generous giving! Give YOURSELVES a hand!”

[Applause]

“What a TREASURE this building is! What a blessing! How beautiful!

“This building is proof that WE should dream for MORE THAN TODAY, ASK FOR MORE THAN TODAY, because WE want to do great things here! WE want the time of this church to COME with power! OUR time is now!”

[Standing applause]

“Amen. Amen.

“A few other things.

“Please be careful when YOU come into the building or onto OUR new campus because WE have installed a state-of-the-art security system to protect and guard all YOUR hard work. THIEVES are getting more and more bold and WE want to be good stewards and make it impossible for THIEVES to BREAK IN AND STEAL what WE have built here. Amen?

“Also, I know some of YOU have been a little WORRIED about whether or not WE were going to have enough BBQ for all of US to have seconds at OUR celebration banquet TOMORROW night, but fear not, WE have a great group of guys who spent all week looking for some great deals on the meat and have come through with flying colors, so come TOMORROW night and eat until YOU can’t eat any more!”

[Laughter]

“Aaaaaamen to that! Amen. Amen.

“So that is still on for TOMORROW night! And if YOU’VE been stressed or WORRIED about WHAT TO WEAR TOMORROW night there is a group of folks meeting here this afternoon at the building to RUN over to the mall and help each other pick out the proper attire for the evening. Yes, this is a formal event, which is going to be a big sacrifice for ME [the pastor/minister points to his open collar where a tie would be, the audience laughs], but I’M willing to make sacrifices [grins].

“Well, I think that’s it. WE want to HONOR YOUR time so WE’LL probably be shortening the worship time today because of all the announcements, but thank YOU for bearing with US.

“Let US start today with a prayer:

“Our Father in heaven, thank you for making our church’s name great in this neighborhood, help our desires and dreams and plans come true right here and right now, help us dream big dreams and move boldly into the future, bless us, and help us to move past those who would hurt us or hold us down because they are not worth our time anyway, let us seek out those who speak life into our lives, and leave behind those who would speak death, fulfill the desires of our heart, and keep us in a place of blessing. Lastly, help us seek your kingdom as well, so all these things will be added to us.

“Amen.

“Let’s sing out! WE sound great!”

[Exit stage left]

 

Adam Daniels is a freelance writer who has worked in ministry for 12 years, most recently as the Campus Minister at the Campus View Church of Christ in Athens, Georgia. Despite his years of experience in full time ministry and working through a couple of theological degrees, he still has more questions than answers. He is a husband to Jessie, a lover of books, a stumbling disciple of Jesus, and the worst player on his church league softball team. He blogs occasionally at https://idlefaith.wordpress.com.

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Author:  Publish Date: May 9, 2018

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The CHARIS website hosts conversations of and about Churches of Christ. In partnership with the ACU Library and the Siburt Institute for Church Ministry at Abilene Christian University (Abilene, TX), the website is supported and led by the Center for Heritage and Renewal in Spirituality (CHARIS) at ACU. The Center’s mission is to renew Christian spirituality through engagement of Christian heritage, at Abilene Christian University and beyond. The views expressed on the CHARIS website are those of the various authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Abilene Christian University or CHARIS at ACU. Questions or comments about the CHARIS website can be directed to charis @ acu.edu.

2017-18 CHARIS Editorial Board:
Dr. Carisse Berryhill
Dr. Jason Fikes
Karissa Herchenroeder
Mac Ice
Chai Green
Tammy Marcelain
Molly Scherer
Dr. John Weaver

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