Meet Harry. Harry liked to say he had been a member of Typical Southern Baptist Church from nine months before he was born till today. Harry moved from Rural, Southern State to Large Metropolitan City, Southern State, about four hours from Rural, to attend State college. Harry could not travel from Metropolitan, SS to Rural, SS every weekend to worship with his family at TSBC, so he began visiting churches in Metro. A friend advised Harry to visit Trendy Community Church, though, the friend warned, he would be in for a surprise. TCC’s casual atmosphere in its Sunday morning worship gathering was very different than the traditional services to which Harry was accustomed. From the moment he arrived at the Metropolitan Middle School’s gym, where TCC rented space for worship, Harry was uncomfortable. He nearly returned to his car, but Sally noticed the uncomfortable visitor, and approached him with a friendly smile and a word of welcome.
When Harry met Sally, he was surprised to see that she was dressed very casually. Sally was equally surprised at the sight of Harry’s dark suit and tie.
“Going to a funeral after this?” she quipped.
“I’m just dressed for church,” Harry replied curtly, “And aren’t we supposed to give God our Sunday best?” Harry truly believed that dressing well on Sundays was a spiritual act of worship.
“At TCC, we believe God deserves our best every day, not just Sunday,” said Sally cheerfully.
Harry had never thought of that. The issued bothered him so much that he barely even listened to the “talk” given by TCC’s pastor (though Harry probably would not have listened anyway, since the man talked softly while sitting on a stool). Harry determined that day to give God his best always. He downloaded an app to his smart phone that provided him with passages of Scripture to read daily. He committed to pray at least fifteen minutes every day. He regularly attended TCC, joined a small group, and began to volunteer at the Metropolitan Rescue Mission. Harry still tucked his shirt into his slacks on Sunday mornings, but he left the tie and coat hanging in the closet. Harry returned to Rural that summer, and was disappointed that his TSBC church family seemed content to give only their Sunday best to God. He could not wait for the next semester to begin, so that he could be with people who were really living out their faith.
Harry was in a spiritual rut, as he described it to his small group, by the time he returned to school and TCC; however, he was excited about getting back to giving God his best. He asked about Sally, when he did not see her at the worship gathering or small group, but they said she had not been in attendance in several weeks. Harry saw Sally on campus and asked her why she was MIA.
With tears trickling from her eyes she told him, “You can give this God your best, and what does he give you in return? Nothing!”
“What do you mean?” asked Harry.
“I gave him everything I had, and he would not even heal my mother’s cancer? I’m done with him.”
As she turned and walked away, Harry wondered if she was right to be angry with God, or if she had been withholding some of her best from him.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph 2::8-10)
Grace says that at your best you are really the worst, but God accepts you at your worst, on the basis of faith in the atonement purchased by Christ on the cross he awakened in you, that he himself awakened in you. Your best has nothing to do with your apparel or your performance; rather, it is Jesus’ righteousness that covers you so that you stand justified before a holy God. Should you give God your best? So long as you know that your best is your worst, and that you are exchanging your worst for Jesus best. What will you receive in return?
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor 4:17-18)
Suffering and loss do not seem light and momentary; however, the apostle means to show us that in the grand scope of eternity our pain is but a little thing compared to the everlasting joy of seeing Jesus face to face. In summary, whether you wear a tie or a trendy hat on Sunday mornings, remember that your reward is not Christ’s blessings, but Christ himself (which is his greatest blessing). Harry, Sally, TCC, TSBC, and all the rest of us need not depend on our best, but know that by grace through faith we have Jesus’ best now, and the best only gets better.