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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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SHOWTIME RELIGION

An unknown writer reports an article in a magazine describing an Asian couple's first few days in America. They spoke no English and had to overcome many difficulties. They went to the grocery store seeking food. They bought a can with a picture of a beautiful platter of fried chicken on the label. They were about to learn their first English word — Crisco. They found out that in America the package does not always reflect the contents. What you see is not always what you get, even in religion. In Mark 12:38-40, a few days before His death, Jesus condemned some who were guilty of making a show out of religion: "Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation." These guys wrapped themselves in a very religious looking package. They quoted the Bible, hung out at the synagogue, and prayed. But Jesus exposed their sham when He said their lengthy prayers were "for a show" (vs 40). In a parallel passage, Matthew 23:5 tells us that "all their works they do to be seen by men." The scribes were practicing show-time religion! The approval they sought was from people, not God.

What is show-time religion? Show-time religion is present anytime we believe how we look to other people is more important than how we look to God. Show-time religion says we are spectators in worship, there to be entertained by others instead of there to participate. For many years the church of Christ insisted (and rightfully so) that each worshiper is a priest bringing an offering to God and that each of us must worship God in spirit and in truth (I Peter 2:5, 9; John 4:24). This view of worship sees God as the audience and each worshiper as a performer seeking to gain God's approval. This paradigm compelled us to reject the "entertainment-approach" to worship. The congregation itself was the only "praise team" and "drama team" and "worship band" that was needed, as each individual drew near to God to offer spiritual sacrifices through our High Priest, Jesus Christ. Now show-time religion has convinced many that worship is more about getting something from God than offering something to Him. One Sunday on the way home from church a man and his wife were being highly critical of the sermon, songs, and other parts of the service. Their small son piped up, "I thought it was a pretty good show for a dollar." The church must refuse to make a show out of the time we spend in worship to God.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ