Austen Ukachi, Senior Pastor He’s Alive Chapel
This year our focus this Christmas season is on worship.
Last week we read from Matthew 2:1-12, as we emphasized that Christmas is a time to offer to God true worship. We also said that there are two types of worshippers in the Church. Possibly there are more. We contrasted two types of worshippers: one represented by the wise men who went with genuine motives to worship Jesus, and the second represented by Herod whose motive for wanting to worship Jesus was sinister.
Unfortunately, even now our churches are filled with these two types of worshippers. There are many kinds of distractions that affect our worship.
Our churches which should be houses of prayer and worship as God intended, have been turned into other things. This was why Jesus cleansed the temple.
Some believe that probably Jesus cleansed the temple twice. John in chapter 2:12-16, suggests that Jesus cleansed the temple at the early part of his ministry, while Matthew in chapter 21:12-13, reports that it was done during the end of his ministry, in the week of passion.
Just as in Jesus’ day, many still come to church with different motives;
- Some to genuinely seek God
- Some to buy and sell
- Some to network
- Some to steal
- Some come because of food
- Some to seek their own ends, other than God
- Some to make friends, or meet a life partner
- Some to meet their clients
- Some to spy on Christians
- Some to gather news items to criticize the church
- Some simply to distract others from worshiping God. I must confess this last point rubs those of who believe in solitude negatively. I believe that solitude and reverence should form part of our worship, even for we Pentecostals.
Admittedly, in every human endeavour there must be some degree of transaction. But what is legitimate could also turn out to be distractive. There must be some buying and selling wherever people are gathered, but the transactional process can prove distractive. Loitering and movements could be very distractive during worship. Let us be very careful to avoid those things that distract us from worshipping God. What takes priority when we come to the house of God: seeking God or personal survival? What should engage our attention? An individual could be in church and yet miss God because of lack of focus.
We read that Jesus cleansed his temple of these men who had turned the temple to a den of robbers. If the temple was turned to a den of robbers in Jesus day, then men are liable to do the same today. Read the indictment which Jeremiah wrote about the Jews in his time. You will appreciate the common problem man has always had in every age: “Has this house, which bears my name, become a den of robbers to you! But I have been watching declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 7:11 NIV). Just as God watched them then, he is watching us now!
The story is told of one of the large denominations, where a member who was a big financier of the church died in an accident. No sooner had this happened than her staff who were members of her church began to loot and divert her property, assets and resources to themselves. How painful and shameful is their behaviour in the Church. There are untoward behaviour patterns displayed in the Church that negate true worship. Let me ask again, why are you in church? Are you a sincere worshipper or false worshipper? What is your motive for coming to church?