Summary: A call to help us avoid moedern day consumerism in Chrisitan culture and focus ont he real priority of the church.
August 6, 2006
Introduction: Today in our society everyone is faced with hundreds of choices and options. We live in a consumer-driven culture where you can have your choice of anything and everything you desire. Unfortunately that concept has crept into the culture of church life and our choices concerning church. We pick and choose church life almost the way we choose products in a store.
In the most recent issue of Leadership Journal, Marshall Shelley says, “Churchgoers may seek a ‘life-changing experience’ but only if it doesn’t affect their lifestyle.” August, 2006 pg. 3
We want life to be comfortable. We want to meet our needs and our desires with little consequence. We like to talk about the blessings of God but all too often we are afraid to deal with the requirements of following God. What we must understand is that one feeds into the other. I like that I live in this time in history. I like that I can have fast food, microwaves and a car. I would not survive very long if I were having to plow a field for my food. But, sometimes all of those traps of life can cause us to miss the main focus and purpose of life.
Let me show you an exaggerated look of what life can be like if we simply look for our convenient choices in churches.
** Show “Me Church” video
Now, that is an extreme example of living with the wrong priorities of church life. However, scripture gives us some very clear teaching regarding the priority of our spiritual life.
The Glory of God must be our number one priority.
We can so easily get caught up in our own life circumstances that we miss out on what is most important. We lose sight of the concept that we were created to bring God glory. Life runs at a fast pace and if we aren’t intentional about focusing our lives on the glory of God, we can easily lose our direction.
The people in Jerusalem had stopped focusing on the importance of building the temple. The temple was significant not because it was merely a building, it was significant because it was where you met God.
Creation declares the glory of God.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalm 19:1 (NIV)
Scripture teaches over and over again that the main reason humanity was created was to bring glory to God. In particular the reason the nation of Israel was brought into being was to bring honor to God in a culture that worshipped many gods.
The nation of Israel declares the glory of God.
“And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord." So the Israelites did this.” Exodus 14:4 (NIV)
God’s promise of restoration declares the glory of God.
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ’Give them up!’ and to the south, ’Do not hold them back. Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth-- everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made." Isaiah 43:5-7 (NIV)
Isaiah wrote in the 8th century B.C. that judgment was coming upon the nation of Israel because they had disobeyed God. He was writing either during the time of the beginning of the exile of the nation to Babylon or right before that time. But in this passage, he has a promise form God that God will lead his people out of the nations of their exile to return to the land of promise.
Today, we want to pick up the story of the people who had returned form exile almost 300 years later in the writing of the prophet Haggai. Zerubbabel was the governor of the state of Judah in 520 B.C. He had returned to Jerusalem 18 years earlier to resettle the city. They were some of the first exiles to repatriate the city.
In the 18 years that the people had begun to return to Jerusalem they had not begun work on the temple. The Temple of Solomon that had been built in 959 B.C. was destroyed in the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Without the temple, worship and connection with God was not possible for the people of the nation. When the people returned to Jerusalem, they were expected to begin construction on the temple so that God could be worshipped and glorified. They were so preoccupied with their own lives that they ignored building the temple.