One of Jesus' recurring themes was that the religious establishment of the day had lost its way. It had substituted rules and rituals for a true relationship with God. It had created a "form over substance" religion which had ironically created a gulf between man and God.
The bad news is that organized Christianity, if carried to the extreme, can do the same thing. If we focus on church attendance instead of humbling ourselves before God, we miss the point. If we lose ourselves in church activities, we can miss the point.
Jesus told us that it's all about two things- loving God and loving man.
Most of us feel pretty good, after a good sermon. We leave church uplifted. Our weekly church attendance obligation is fulfilled. When we tithe or put something into the plate, we believe we are giving money for God's work; we have given back to God. If we serve as a deacon or teacher, we may feel particularly righteous. After all, we've done what God wants us to do, haven't we?
This is because no one is righteous. We've all sinned and more than once. In fact, our situation is so abysmal that we can never earn our way into Heaven. We owe God everything. Whatever we have- beginning with our lives, and everything good after that, we own to God.
We need a savior.
We must never forget that.
God gave up his only human Son, to provide us with a way out. Jesus makes us righteous. Anything else is self-righteous.
So, if our church service is done out of a sense of gratitude,then great. But if it's done to make us feel good about ourselves, then we are actually kidding ourselves. Certainly, church activities are arguably better than, say, stealing from someone. Then again, we've probably all hear of or witnessed activities done in the name of the church that would make stealing pale in comparison.
What really matters is whether or not we are doing it for Him. That can be a difficult question. We can get so caught up in the activities of church that we lose sight of the object of our worship- our heavenly Father.
There is a simple test you can use to determine whether you are acting rightously or self-righteously. Ask yourself, "Am I doing this for Him, or am I doing it for me?"
If it is self-rightous, then as Jesus put it, you have your reward. If it is truly righteous, then you have an incredible reward awaiting you in Heaven.