I opened my Bible on a Sunday evening in front of a group of men and women amidst the buzz of fluorescent bulbs and the smell of ‘church’ coffee and read aloud a well known and well read passage, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’” (1Samuel 16:7 NIV).
I closed my Bible and looked at the crowd waiting for my response. With a hand raised in the air I asked, “How many people are glad that God looks at our hearts!” With almost immediacy hands raised all around the room with amens drowning out the hum of the lights.
“Me too!” I said. “Too bad people who come through our church doors still look at the outward appearance whether we like it or not.”
Dropped the mic. Walked out of the room.
Ok, I didn’t do quite that… but I could have. I had made my point and no one could argue.
Yet church folk argue it every Sunday. “Why change this?” “You’re wasting your money on things that don’t matter.” “No one really cares about that!”
Let me be honest with you. In the light of eternity, do the ‘things’ inside the church matter? I dare say they probably don’t matter much at all. Salvation is not dependent on our leaky roofs, grungy bathrooms, shoddy lawn care, and poor building maintenance.
But in the light of ‘their’ eternity, the women and men who do not yet know of God’s perfect grace, I would dare say that these ‘things’ that we perhaps overlook every single Sunday now really become a ‘life or death’ situation. Because whether we like it or not, ‘they’ are not overlooking these things at all. If anything, they’ve already made up their minds on how you view your church before the first note is even played. I know, it’s not fair. You saved your best for last… but sorry, they’ve unfortunately already checked out.
That was the case with the Queen of Sheba in 1Kings 10. When she came to see King Solomon she said that it wasn’t only his wisdom that overwhelmed her; but the attention to detail in all of the buildings, supplies, and personnel that surrounded and served her. The impact that he made on her did not rest solely on what he had to say but actually was woven together with the overall experience she had from beginning to end. The whole encounter impressed her.
What about your church? What matters most? Better yet, what matters least at your church… and do those things still seem to impress those who come through the doors?
For thankfully God looks at the heart, and ultimately, we would love to have the chance to share that story of grace with those who come through our doors. So maybe if we show them that they matter to ‘us’, we’ll get the opportunity to share that they matter to ‘Him’ as well.
At least that’s how I see it,