Only sick, twisted people like me ever watched MadTV. Don’t judge me! But there was one recurring character by the name of Stuart Larkin (played by the hilarious Michael McDonald) who just made me howl. Stuart was a a little borderline-albino, simple-minded, manipulative boy, who was very large for his age. His catchphrase was, “Look what I can do.” He would repeat this phrase to a group of adults until everyone would pay attention to him. Then when he had everyone’s attention he would just sort of jump around wildly. It was high quality entertainment!
So, what does this have to do with the church, you are probably asking yourself. Here’s the deal, throughout the past 29 years I’ve been in ministry, I’ve seen churches do some pretty wild things to get attention. It’s as if the church has had some kind of Stuart Larkin syndrome, yelling out to the community, “Look what we can do! We can talk like you. We can put on dramas and produce cool videos like you. Look at us, we can dress like you. Hey, we can dance like you and we can serve Starbucks like you! We can even drive Harley’s onto our stage! We ROCK!”
Now, I know I am prone to cynicism. Sarcasm is my middle name! But I have just been wrestling with the whole idea of the church scrambling for attention like some preschooler trying to get everyone to look at them. I really think it’s time we grow up. We need to understand that it’s not about us. We need to be giving attention to Christ and not to ourselves. We shouldn’t be robbing the spotlight that should be focused only on Him.
This morning I was reading Matthew 6. The first verse caught my attention, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them…” I realize Christ is talking here about not doing good deeds in an effort to be seen by others. We are not to let our left hand know what our right hand is doing. We are to serve in secret so our Heavenly Father who sees in secret will reward us. But I think this principle also holds true in this situation. We shouldn’t be so concerned about getting the world’s attention, as we should be focusing on God and serving people. Especially when the church comes together in corporate worship. Worship is about telling the story of Christ and the cross, not a time to wow the audience with some great publicity stunt.
I believe when we love God and serve people, we are acting as mature believers. We are being salt and light in a dark world. We are loving as Christ loved, humbly without fanfare. Stuart Larkin may be funny, but he’s totally obnoxious. I pray that’s not how the world sees the church.