Someone once told me we’ll be able to pick out the Baptists when we get to heaven. They’ll be the ones toting the covered dishes. Eating has always been a hallmark for us church folks. We love to eat and gather around the dinner table.
The trouble is, it seems to me the church is guilty of treating church like a pot luck supper. More and more we’re ignoring God’s banquet table and cooking up our own “kitchen religion”. The church would rather eat whatever tastes good than feast on God’s Word. The church would rather roast a bunch of rules and regulations than feast on the Bread of Life. The church would rather gorge on opulence than taste obedience.
“I’ve made myself available
to those who haven’t bothered to ask.
I’m here, ready to be found
by those who haven’t bothered to look.
I kept saying ‘I’m here, I’m right here’
to a nation that ignored me.
I reached out day after day
to a people who turned their backs on me,
People who make wrong turns,
who insist on doing things their own way.
They get on my nerves,
are rude to my face day after day,
Make up their own kitchen religion,
a potluck religious stew.
Isaiah 65:1-3 MSG
This is a sad-but-true story about a church proving there is no freedom in religion.
Hi. My name is Steve Sawyer and I’m a non-politic.
I used to carry my Republican credentials proudly in my billfold and flash my card in public. In every election but a few since I could legally vote I pulled the Republican lever in the voting booth. I listened to conservative talking heads beat up on liberals and Democrats. I discovered the conservative right is as extreme and polarized as the liberal left.
That’s when I became a non-politic. They say you’re not supposed to mix politics and religion (No one has ever told me who “they” are). But I think politics and religion fit together perfectly. Both embrace performance-based acceptance. Both condemn and shun anyone with an opposing viewpoint. Both think they’re better than their neighbors. Both depend on archaic rules, traditions and customs. They both want to convince you that they’re right and everyone else is wrong. Both want to convince you that they have all the answers to all the questions in all the world. Both survive by making grandiose promises. They both strive to make folks feel good. Both have their roots in Pharisaic dogma masquerading as truth and moral correctness.
I think I’ll stick to calling myself a non-politic authentic follower of Jesus. He wasn’t about politics or religion either. Thank God.
If you’re a guy older than six, you’ve heard, “Clean up your room like a good boy”, or something akin to it, a bazillion times. Ladies, your husbands have all heard it too.
It’s a harmful thing to tell a little boy or girl they’ll be good for doing something. Continue reading
We all see them. They come to worship, sit quietly in the pews, sing beautifully, repeat the Lord’s Prayer, nod thoughtfully during the sermon, drop an envelope in the plate
and are first in line for the coffee and donuts. Then they leave just as they came, obligation fulfilled for this week. Our churches are filled with folks like this. Obligation to God fulfilled for a week, God pretty much forgotten until next Sunday morning. OK, these are easy to spot.
But we each must ask ourselves in our daily lives: “Am I really living my faith, or am I just practicing my religion?” What’s the difference?
Here are some questions we must ask ourselves:
Are God and Jesus put first and foremost in our daily thinking, decisions and actions, or do we allow worldly pressures and self-centeredness take over?
Do we feel and listen to the Holy Spirit working constantly in our lives?
Do we attend worship for what we can get out of it or what we can put into it?
Do we admit our doubts and take them to God or do we hide from them?
When we take our troubles and needs to God, do we just leave them there or are we intentional in our actions to do our part?
When people look at us, do they see us as being different from non-believers? Do we walk in our faith?
Do we follow the same values in our work or public lives that we do at home?
Are we satisfied that we will be saved because we have accepted Jesus, become passive in our “Christian” growth, or are we striving to learn and grow in our understanding?
Do we simply read God’s word or do we study it? Does God’s word simply comfort us or does it move us?
Have we fully and completely turned our lives over to Jesus as our living Lord and Master? In our actions and thoughts, do we fully serve Him as a slave serves his Master?
Not easy questions. Every one of us falls short. We sin. At times we practice our religion rather than live our faith. At times, we are all like the “them” I referred to in the first paragraph. We are human.
But by facing these sorts of questions directly, by becoming intentional in our thoughts and actions, we can move closer to the Lord.
And by His grace, we are saved.
Alive in The Word