Mother Nature is a fickle lady. After a winter of deep snowfall, heavy fogs and cold, cold temperatures, most of us are anxious for the bright warm days of spring to arrive. As soon as the grass begins to grow and the robins begin to sing, most of us will be outdoors working our gardens, planting flowers and setting up our summer furniture, determined to chase away the long winter by sheer determination.
However, nature is not about to be put off by mere human desires. Cold temperatures persist forcing us to cover the plants we optimistically planted, and drenching rains threaten to wash away the grass seeds we hoped would turn our weed choked lawns into a green carpet of turf. Yards are raked, aerated, fertilized, sprayed for weeds and reseeded in the hope of that it will appear attractive for a few brief weeks in spring before summer’s sweltering heat forces it into dormancy.
Of course there are those who don’t mind the little yellow flowers that spring up or the tiny purple blooms that creep across their yards. These are people whose fertilizer spreader was loaned to someone years ago and forgotten about, whose hoses are dragged out occasionally to wash the car and whose twenty year old lawn mower, which lacks a mulching blade, grass catcher, electric start and self propulsion, faithfully starts once again. And since the lawn is not fertilized or watered, the mower will be used every couple of weeks in the spring, a couple of times in the summer and once more in October before being shoved into the corner of the garage for the winter.
I’m not sure how I feel about these people. Am I smug because my lawn is so much better than theirs or envious because they have more free time to pursue productive activities such as fishing? In the same way I wonder about my attitude toward those who don’t attend church. Am I self-righteous sitting in church while they desecrate Sunday morning at the golf course? Do I feel compelled to show off my faith, display it as I do my brightly colored flowers or verdant green lawn? Does going to church mark me as a better person than others? If that’s my attitude then I’m going to church for the wrong reasons.
I can sometimes appear to be like the person Jesus is describing in Matthew 6: 5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.” Neither churches nor green lawns should be the status of our self-worth or righteousness. The purpose is to give us a sense of contentment and happiness, a peace which comes from allowing God into our lives. What’s important is that in whatever activities we do, we experience God’s presence. That experience is deeply personal and serve to renew our spiritual lives and not our social status. “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
I wish more people would come to church. I also wish my neighbors would spray for dandelions! The fact that they don’t doesn’t mean we should scorn or be judgmental of them. We attend church one hour a week. However God’s presence is with us 24/7. We carry and display His Grace in us every day and our deeds and actions reflect the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. There is no need to flaunt our faith. We simply need to live it and when our neighbors see us, and then they see Jesus and His church. We must thrive to be good neighbors, respecting others, helping them and quietly sharing our faith through compassion, friendliness and generosity. We need to remember the old saying, “For some people we are the only Bible they will ever see.”
Peace and Grace, Pastor Dan