Why this waste?  Why costly worship?


In his second keynote talk to the SIM 125th Anniversary even in Blantyre, Dr Joshua Bogunjoko used Matthew 26: 6 – 13 to pose the question why costly worship? But he also wondered if a calling from God to mission can ever be seen as a waste.

The passage from Matthew tells of a woman, a ‘sinner, who enters the house of a Pharisee, and breaks a jar of perfume to anoint Jesus. The perfume, we are told, cost about the same as a year’s wages. Costly worship indeed. But those others in the room only saw this as a waste of a valuable resource.

Dr Bogunjoko spoke about how desperate this woman was to get to Jesus. How she entered a room of men eating dinner, uninvited, wept over Jesus feet and wiped her tears with her hair and then ‘anointed Him with the perfume. Her actions went against all of the social conventions of her time, but still was determined to break conventions to show this act of worship,

He reiterated the story of the SIM Pioneers who came to Nigeria 125 years ago only for two of them to die before they could start their work.

He also spoke of five young men [with Operation Auca, an attempt to evangelize the Huaorani people] who, in 1956, went to Ecuador to reach out to the Auca Indians only to be speared to death almost as soon as they stepped off the aeroplane which took them to the remote area where they were to work.

“Because of their obedience to the one who invited them to step out, compelled by His love to make Him known to people who had never heard of Him, they prayed, they sang, they prepared, they took gifts and stepped out in faith. And they were speared to death” he said.

“Newspapers in the USA, when they picked up on the story of the five in Ecuador, had headlines that said “What a waste”. In Toronto when news reached there of Kent and Gowans death and Bingham’s illness newspapers had similar headlines.”

He wondered if this is the case or whether what they offered was costly worship, worship which cost their lives. When we look at God’s programme and plan it may seem like a waste, certainly in human or worldly terms. But in Kingdom terms it was costly worship,

125 years after their deaths, the lives of Kent and Gowans, and the determination of Bingham, are being celebrated around the world as the organisation they helped to found not only survives but works in over 70 countries. Also the Indians in Ecuador have been reached and won for Christ.

“If we serve a God of justice, we cannot ignore any context where Christ is not known nor any context of injustice and suffering as we engage in the course of His great commission and his great commandment. Christ did not ignore the dishonour that was the response to this woman’s costly worship,” he said.

“In this narrative, Christ expressed an anticipation of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. We are called to His mission, the Mission of God; we are called to costly worship. The call to missions is a call to costly worship, the call to missions is a call to just worship, the call to missions is a call to the restoration of human relationship to God and to other people.

“It is a call to the restoration of human honour and dignity as image bearers of God wherever we may be called and whatever the need may be that we are called to meet – and that is justice. Justice is both corrective and restorative.

“This woman offered a costly worship and Jesus elevated her to a place of honour and dignity in the course of the Gospel and in the history of the church as the Gospel is proclaimed; a justice recompense for a misunderstood and misjudged worship.”

He also warned that just as the SIM Pioneers or the five young men in Ecuador were misunderstood and thought to be misguided, so the word will look on us through those same lenses.

“Our costly worship will be misunderstood and misjudged. Our commitment to Christ and His Gospel will be misinterpreted and our actions in the course of justice because of Jesus will be misunderstood,” he said.

“In the face of misunderstanding and misinterpretation, we must not fail to respond to the needs of those who are living and dying without God’s Good News, nor ignore the poor or be unconcerned with injustice. Like the woman in the face of misguided indignation, we must carry on the course of Christ.

“Our Lord was not dismissing of the needs of the poor but merely putting it in its rightful place in reference to our commitment to Him and worship of Him. If we serve a God of whom it is said righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne, then we must not only offer costly worship to our King in obedience, but we must also act in line with the foundation of His throne; the course of justice as citizens of His Kingdom.

“What cost are you willing to pay to take His good news to those who will otherwise live and die without knowing Him? To those in the context of suffering and vulnerability? To those in the context of exploitation and injustice? Are you willing to break the “alabaster jar” of your most prized possessions, gifts, skills, passion and pour out your all on Jesus for their sake?” he asked.

“When the world asks, “why this waste”, then we can respond, and why not this worship to our King?

“Is the cause of the Gospel, that is, the restoration of human relationship with God and human dignity as image bearers of God, worth, our commitment and costly gift? Is it worth our life, our all?

“What the world called “a waste”, Jesus called worship.”

Podcasts of Dr Bogunjoko’s keynote talks and his Sunday sermon can be heard here