By Allen White
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24
One summer on the way to church camp, my then girlfriend passed a note to me. The note said basically, “It’s not you. It’s me. Can we just be friends?” I had wondered why she didn’t want to sit next to me on the bus. I’m very perceptive about these things.
At the next rest stop, I headed for the bathroom and, uh, donated my breakfast from that morning. I wasn’t taking it very well, even though the romance had lasted all of 30 days.
Once we got to camp, I was fully immersed in all of the activities and church services. I plunged headfirst into the deep end of the divine. Who needed a girlfriend anyway?
One evening following the service, I was kneeling at the altar in the front of the Tabernacle. The building looked more like a barn with red, yellow and orange shag carpet. But, it had a very spiritual sounding name.
I earnestly sought after God. And, God basically said to me, “Buddy, you’re wasting your time. You need to go find the girl and make things right.” You see in my quest to pursue God and leave her in the dust, I had been slinging a little mud too.
I went outside and found her. I apologized. She cussed me out. I went back to the Tabernacle to once again earnestly seek God feeling that I had done my part to make things right and having confirmation that she was not the girl for me.
How often are we at odds with others, then we think we can show up to church and get our praise on? We might sing songs. We might get a little emotional. But, in God’s ears, it’s just a bunch of noise. Our worship is coming from our lips, but not from our hearts.
If you think about it, if the light of Christ doesn’t impact the darkness of our souls, then there’s something really twisted about what we call worship. Often we treat worship like the old bath soap commercial, “Calgon, take me away.” But, before Jesus will take us away, He expects us to deal with our stuff.
In this passage, Jesus paints a scenario where we have offended someone. In Matthew 18, He teaches about handling situations when someone else offends us (Matthew 18:15). Here’s the kicker: whether we offended them or they offended us, Jesus instructs us to take the initiative toward reconciliation in both scenarios.
“But, that’s not fair,” you protest. As I’ve written before, you want better than “fair.” (BLOG REF).
Who are you at odds with right now? How is it interfering with your worship? If it’s not, then be concerned about that too. It’s time to take responsibility for your actions. It’s time to own up to your shortcomings, regardless of theirs.
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