Each weekend, around 400,000 churches in the U.S. celebrate our risen Lord. I hate to say it, but every party has at least one party-pooper. Seems like somebody is gonna have a cow each Sunday in your church. Hopefully not you.

The resurrection of Lazarus was cause for celebration, so his sisters threw a party in Jesus’ honor. Revisit John 12 with me and see who you identify with most at this party.

Laid Back Lazarus  

It had been a crazy week for Lazarus. He spent the first half in a tomb. He spent the second half celebrating his resurrection. It was the best and worst week of his life!

Lazarus was a party-pooper because he seemed to have gotten the idea that he was the guest of honor at this party. He was reclining while his sister Martha was serving and sister Mary was worshiping.  

Some of your church members come to church to worship, others come to serve, and most are likely doing neither.

When a church I pastored was building a new worship center, a wealthy member suggested to me that we have cup holders in our seats. I assumed he was joking, until it became awkwardly obvious that he was not.

By far, most who come to our churches are expecting to be fed. Their laid- back-like-Lazarus attitude reflects their consumer mentality. Allow God to replace your entitlement mentality with one of appreciation.

Mad Dash Martha

I see myself in Martha. A lot.

Like most ministers, I show up to serve, which is good. Yet, like Martha, I get easily distracted by all of the preparations that have to be made and become “worried and upset.”

Hard work is commended in Scripture, but Martha was too busy to worship. She lost her focus and her joy. Luke gives us a lowdown on how Mary and Martha were getting along (Luke 10:38–42). Like a lot of sisters, they weren’t.  

Do you ever bite off more than you can chew and lose your joy? Perhaps you are inadvertently robbing others of their joy as well by huffing and puffing around the church. If you are like Mad Dash Martha, those around you are waiting for you to explode or implode. Your good work ethic is commendable, but it does not excuse you from redirecting the focus off of the Guest of Honor.

Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joy and songs (Ps. 100:2).

Sisters Mary and Martha prepared a feast for Jesus and his disciples. While Mary was worshiping, Martha was working, which brought tension into the house.

Martha was distracted by her many tasks…worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary made the right choice. (Luke 10:38-42)

Before you judge Martha too harshly, know that without task oriented people like her, nothing would ever get done. She was a list person, which is how God wired her, and perhaps you. Martha was the first to “welcome Jesus” – she just got distracted.

For people wired like Martha, Sundays can be a blast or a burden – both for us and for those around us. Are you distracted right now? How can we make sure our work for God is not overshadowing our walk with God?

Judgmental Judas

This third party-pooper famously “objected” to the apparent wastefulness of Mary’s gift. Judas was not rebuked by Jesus for being financially frugal, because that was his responsibility. He reasoned that pouring a year’s wages on someone’s feet was wasteful and irresponsible. He even feigned concern about helping the poor.

Nobody bought it. Everyone would know within the week that Judas was a thief and a traitor; caring less for the poor, his friends, or Jesus.

Judgmental members are party-poopers who enjoy criticizing other people and their ministries. They would assume this post is for other members or staff.

Therefore stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister (Rom. 14:13).  

Messy Mary

Mary was different. She anointed Jesus with expensive ointment worth about 3 years’ wages (John 12). Messy Mary worshiped extravagantly by pouring out most of her inheritance on the feet of Jesus, as well as on the floor around Him and her hair.

Mary was no party-pooper. She focused on the resurrection and the life, and didn’t care much about what others thought about her extravagant gift. 

When was the last time you worshipped publicly with abandon? Genuine love is sometimes expressed in raw, spontaneous, and even undignified ways. Church can get messy when it turns into a resurrection party.

David was dancing before the Lord with all his might (2 Sam. 6:14).

What we do at church is not nearly as important as how and why we do it. Are you a party-pooper at your church? If so, prayerfully consider the Guest of Honor before you show up this Sunday.

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