Want to listen to the podcast? Click here.
When we think about how we are doing spiritually, most of us think about things on the surface, we think in terms of behavioral patterns: am I going to church? Have I been reading my Bible? Am I praying, giving, and serving? We look at outward works and forget that they are the results of a deeper spiritual factor. We are a people that seek approval or validation from others. That validation often comes in the form of what we do.
What impresses the world? Occupations impress the world. Society has determined that we are what our occupations are. Certain jobs have more value in society’s eyes than other jobs. Doctor, lawyer, policeman, and fireman are some of the most respected professions in America. You never hear a parent encouraging his child to grow and be a garbage man, yet without the garbage man, society would break down. When meeting people for the first time, the subject of jobs comes up quickly. What do you do? There is a competition to see who has the best job. I see people on Linked In, a professional networking site that have MBA, or PE or similar tags to set them apart. Do you have a degree? (College, University, or Votech?) High School diploma. Public, private, or GED?
Where you live and what type of house you live in play a major role on the world’s view of success. Do you live in a brick, stucco, tabby, or vinyl house? What neighborhood do you live in? How big is your house? How many square feet? One story or two? Swimming pool? In ground? Above ground?
Power is important to the world. The most powerful man in the world makes $400,000 a year. That’s a pittance compared with athletes, entertainers, or big corporation CEOs. Does all this impress Jesus? “God is not one to show partiality.” (Acts 10:34) 1 Cor. 3:18-19 tells us, “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, ‘He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS.’” Earthy treasures and power do not impress Jesus.
What Impresses the Church? Programs seem to impress the church. The more the better, something for everyone. Babies, toddlers, pre-school, youth, young adults, young couples, singles, single men, single women, college, parents without partners, seniors, homebound. Programs are important, but if the Holy Spirit were to leave the program, would it stay alive? If programs draw people to a church, what happens when the program changes or ends?
Being a volunteer impresses the church. The most “spiritual” people are involved in everything, right? Sometimes we’re so busy with the things of the church, that we don’t have time for ministry. Some believe if you’re not busy in the church, you’re not a good Christian. The material things of the church impress the Church. You hear people talk about their multi-million dollar church budgets and church buildings. Does all this impress Jesus? No. In Rev. 3:1 Jesus told the church at Sardis, “I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” This church was well known in the community. From all appearances, the church in Sardis was thriving, it had a great reputation. There is nothing recorded about problems or division yet Jesus declared them dead. They were not Kingdom focused. What goes on in our churches today does not impress Jesus. He doesn’t care about all the hustle and bustle of the modern church. The things of the world don’t impress Jesus and neither do the things of the church. So what impresses Jesus?
Let me remind you about the Thessalonians. When Paul sent Timothy to Thessalonica, he didn’t tell him to check on Sunday School attendance, the size of their choir, or their annual budget. No mention is made of the size of the church staff or how many small groups they had. Take a look at 1 Thes. 3:5-10. The one thing Paul was really concerned about is faith. Why? Paul knew that when people grow cold for the Lord, it stems from a lack of faith. It could be a life altering event or crisis that causes people to doubt. I often say nothing surprises Jesus, but there is a case of Him acting really surprised. Luke tells us the story in Chapter 7 of the Roman centurion that wanted his servant healed. Jesus tells him that they’d go to his house, but the centurion says he wasn’t worthy to have Jesus in his house, but if Jesus would just speak the words, his servant would be healed. “Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, ‘I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.’” (Luke 7:9) When they arrived at the centurion’s house, the servant was healed.
Remember the Canaanite woman in Matt. 15:21-28? Jesus concluded by saying, “O woman, your faith is great.”When Jesus went back to his hometown, he had trouble there. Mark 6:5-6 tells us that Jesus was amazed at their unbelief, incredulous is probably a better word. The Son of God had his hands tied because the people lacked faith. Have you ever tied the hands of Jesus?
Faith is the key by which His incredible power is released. 1 Pet. 1:5 says we, “Who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Our trying, struggling, or promising won’t work; God is seeking our faith. I often say struggling is delayed obedience. When we struggle, we focus on our own ability instead of God’s. Only faith and complete trust would give Job the conviction to say, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” (Job 13:15) “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1) We pray by faith that Jesus is listening. We go to church by faith, that we will built up and edified. We give by faith trusting that God will provide for our needs. We witness by faith knowing that the Word of God never returns void. We study our Bible, by faith, knowing that, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Rom. 10:17) Are you thinking that you don’t see God moving in your life? “We walk by faith not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7)
Do you want to impress Jesus? Have some faith. Heb. 11 is the great hall of faith in Scripture. After listing 16 people by name (Abraham and Moses are listed twice), 3 people groups, and the walls of Jericho, the writer of Hebrews concludes in v. 32-40 by telling us what happened to these great men and women of faith. The bottom line is that “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” (Heb. 11:6)