I’ve never watched awards shows. They’ve never captured my attention. Usually the Oscars go to movies I don’t like. The political correctness and lecturing from actors, musicians, and others isn’t funny, entertaining, or balanced. If I like a movie or a song, I’ll watch it, listen to it, and maybe even buy it. But I don’t need someone getting an award to determine value for me.
The same is true in the church. Too often we are reaching for titles and trophies and not towels. Jesus said if you want to be great, be a servant. Our flesh wants a stage; Jesus stooped to serve.
In the first-world church, there is way too much posturing, posing, and positioning of ourselves for awards, recognition, applause, and fame. We determine the “success” of a church by numbers. But what if they are one inch deep and six miles long? Nothing planted there will grow to full measure.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against growing a church. Just the opposite. I want to reach our region for Christ. I want us to baptize more people and see more people added to the kingdom. But, as a side note, what you reach them with, you have to keep doing to keep them.
For example, you won’t find movies less violent than they used to be. Pictures and images of violence are on the rise. Nudity isn’t less than it used to be. As the boundaries are pushed, it seems that the darker the depravity, the greater the awards and “rewards.” Modesty and leaving something to the imagination are a bygone way of thinking.
In the church, we must have more than we used to have – more instruments, more smoke, more lights, more events, more stuff, more bells and whistles. But is that what really matters? Is Jesus going to reward us because we had the coolest stage in the kingdom? Are we going to hear “well done” for having an awesome light show?
At the end of the day, the awards of this world will soon fade away. The fact that most of us even walked this planet will be quickly forgotten. We live in such a fast-paced world that little of what happened before yesterday matters to us. We fail to stop and think about the people that really matter.
Even the church falls into the trap of chasing celebrities, musicians, and people who are famous as authors, preachers, filmmakers, or leaders. We flock to hear the hottest name in music, leadership, worship, or church growth. But is that what God will reward?
It’s interesting to me that, in Antioch, we don’t know the names of those who founded that church. We only know that they were men of Cyprus and Cyrene. We read in Acts that “the hand of the Lord was with them.” Unknown people who had God’s hand on them. Their award or reward? “A large number who believed turned to the Lord.” That’s God’s response to people who aren’t looking for awards or rewards, just seeking to be faithful.
It might be important for all of us to remember that we live, serve, preach, sing, and give for an audience of one. We don’t do what we do so people will remember us, but so they will know the One who sent us. Serving and living for Jesus is reward enough.