“But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”” (John 12:4–8, ESV)
It’s easy to look at a mega-church and criticize the opulence of it. Why not spend it on the poor, why not do some social good with it. While I tend to lean on those thoughts very heavily, I also know that there is a balance to that thought. In some ways, the verses above helps us to remember that while loving and serving the poor is very important in New Testament theology of church life (and was played out by the early church), what Jesus says here must be kept in mind –
Namely that adoration and worship of Jesus, even when there is cost and lots of cost, is not wasted cost.
Of course this is just a principle and the application of that needs wisdom and discernment from the Spirit of God, meaning the application is contextual. A missionary in a 3rd world ministering to starving families will contextualize this far different than a missionary to Beverly Hills. Resources spent to help exalt the death and resurrection of Jesus, to keep the worship of Jesus central and vibrant, is good.
D.A. Carson puts it well:
“If self-righteous piety sometimes snuffs out genuine compassion, it must also be admitted, with shame, that social activism, even that which meets real needs, sometimes masks a spirit that knows nothing of worship and adoration.” ~ Carson, D. A., The Gospel according to John (Pillar New Testament Commentary)
Be slow to judge lest you become a Judas (preaching to myself)!