Have you ever had someone help you out and then make you feel belittled because of it? It is likely, that you have. I think we all have. People have been making others feel bad for helping them out for as long as there have been people in need of help. Jesus considers this behavior to be total garbage. It seems that even “good deeds,” when done for the wrong reasons, can be a matter of pride and arrogance– a means of tooting one’s own horn and clamoring for, even demanding, respect. This in turn, strips the one in need of any shred of dignity they have left. “Okay you ‘poors,'” says this attitude, “I will help you, but everyone is going to have to know that I, a great man of great means, helped you, a little man of little means.” This attitude is just as rampant today as it was in Jesus’ day. We live, as it has been put, within The Society of the Spectacle. This is a society where everything, even acts of care, even prayer, become about self-promotion. But, as followers of Jesus, we are supposed to do good so that people will give honor to our Heavenly Father, not for the sake of making spectacles of ourselves!
It is truly sad that even acts of mercy and prayer are often motivated by self-promotion. Acts of mercy are hugely important pillars of our faith. But, just as important as the doing of them, so is how and why they are done. Surly, needs being met are better than not being met regardless of the givers motivation. It would certainly be better not to starve even if the provider is pompous. But, that is a compromise to say the least and again, not the way we are supposed to be. There are people with great needs in our world and Jesus calls his church to meet them. We are to be motivated, not by self-promotion, but by true compassion and by the desire to bring honor and praise to our Heavenly Father. When our “acts of righteousness” are done for our own glory and honor, they really have nothing to do with glorifying and honoring God or for that matter, with true care for the overall needs of others. If, however, we do our acts of righteousness “not letting our right hand know what our left hand is doing” and not for people to see but for an audience of One, then and only then, can the glory go where it rightly belongs and can the dignity of all be upheld.
So, where is the church today as a whole? Have we joined The Society of the Spectacle. Is our worship and service about us or about God? Is our meeting of other’s needs about self (or individual congregations) promotion or about glorifying our Heavenly Father? Or, do we maintain the perspective of true compassion and of giving the glory to our Heavenly Father? Let me know your thoughts and join us this Saturday as we discuss The Society of the Spectacle.