Last week I saw a meme about Avengers: Endgame. There are dozens of related memes floating around the web, but this one was presented as the rules for watching the movie with one particularly zealous fan:
They take this thing seriously!
Even apart from the humor of the post, Endgame is a big deal both financially and culturally. The recent rise of superhero movies is a geek fantasy come to life. More than that, the average moviegoer has been captivated by the consistent world-building and character growth which Marvel/Disney has accomplished across almost two dozen films. Based on opening weekend figures, Endgame is positioned to be a huge money-maker; possibly achieving numbers that make it the biggest box-office open of all time. It's not hard to see why some fans would take it so seriously!
But maybe superhero movies aren't your thing. Maybe it's March Madness or the World Series. Maybe it's the return of Hamilton or some other Broadway show to area. Most of us are fans of something and we can be over-the-top about it.
But is it possible that the attention we fans give to such an event betrays how underwhelmed we are by what matters most? What matters for eternity?
When was the last time we treated a Sunday morning like we did the big game or long-anticipated movie? Have we ever prepared for listening to the sermon with eager anticipation? Have we ever desired to soak up every word, looking for connections to the Bible and life like we look for clues for the next Marvel film? Have we thought about the lyrics we're signing together as a congregation? Have we let their meaning move from head to heart, so that we are worshiping, not just singing? And what about God's people? Do we come ready merely to shake hands and throw a few smiles? Or are we determined to actually get to know the people with which we will spend eternity?
Of course, we will all have our ups and downs, spiritually. Not every Sunday will feel like a monumental event. Some weeks we'll need the grace of God to even lift our eyes to the heavens. But the question still remains: what gets us really excited? Is it the things of God, or the things of this world? One answer leads to a wasted life. The other leads to a life that ends with hearing, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
And if you aren't happy with your answer to that question, take heart--there's hope! Scripture is clear that God is a God of change. By his death and resurrection, Christ has secured for us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Through faith in him, we can be changed into people who long for God and are consumed with a passion for his glory. We need only immerse ourselves in the things of God and stare again and again at his glory and we will changed: “Beholding the glory of the Lord, we are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor 3:18).
Of course the clearest vision of God's glory is seen in Jesus (John 1:14, 16). This is why we look for him as we read throughout all Scripture (John 5:39). Focusing more time and attention on the things of God in an effort to see his glory may start as a duty. But, by God's grace, eventually it will become our delight! Then, church, ministry, and living the Christian life will be far sweeter to our souls, while, in the words of Helen Lemmel, "the things of earth will grow strangely dim."
So, for this next few weeks, I'd encourage you to commit to praying something like this every morning:
Father, turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Help me to set my mind on things that are above. Please show me your glory in your Son that I might be changed (Ps 119:37; Col 3:2; Exod 33:18; 2 Col 3:18).