Sunday, 17 April 2011

Extravagant worship

Recently, there was a commotion in the media about the Ministry of Manpower buying designer Herman Miller chairs priced at S$575 for their civil servants. People were asking if this was really necessary, and whether the government should be spending so much money. On a more personal note, my wife is expecting our first son, and we recently attended a public talk on storing of a baby’s cord blood in private banks. The suggested fee worked out to $1k for enrolment, and about $250 a year for 1, 5, or even up to 21 years. Of course, the organizers, who represented a particular company, would strongly encourage and convince you that it is really vital and beneficial for you to store your baby’s cord blood, as it can be used in future for medical treatments of possible blood-related diseases. These two incidents caused me to reflect about the worth or value that we place on items, or what one would be willing to spend for a certain quality of item or service.

The passage for today's sermon (Mk 14:1-11) contrasts a woman who anointed Jesus with perfume, and Judas Iscariot who agreed to betray Jesus. Interestingly, the jar of perfume the woman broke was priced at 300 denarii (about $6000, a year's wages in those days), and it was Judas himself who complained (Jn 12:4), only later to agree to betray Jesus for a thirty silver coins (about $600). Perhaps to those present, the woman had wasted this precious perfume and money pouring it all over Jesus, but Jesus accepted her sacrificial offering, as she was symbollically anointing or blessing Him (in preparation for His burial). I wonder if we were living in Jesus' day, would we have felt or said the same things as those present?

In our worship of God, do we dare say that we should be extravagant, or is there even such a thing as out-praising or out-blessing God? Worship, in its simplest sense, is ascribing worth to someone or something, in this case, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Our worship, of course, does not just consist of praise songs that we sing on a given Sunday, or just our quiet time devotions with Him on a regular basis. Our time, our tithes and offerings, our service to Him, our vocation in life, all these count towards giving God the praise and worship that He is due. Can we ever out-give or out-serve Him? In Lk 6:38, Jesus says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured out into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Are we willing to go all-out for Jesus, and how much are we willing to sacrifice and offer to Him in worship? I believe that God challenges us all to choose to worship Him wholeheartedly, but at the same time, I believe that if our hearts are right before Him, He is more than willing and able to pour out His abundant blessings into our lives. As Paul says in Eph 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” How much is God worth to us, and can we afford to be extravagant with Him?

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