The iPod Devotional series has been an off and on feature over the years from your humble rambler. The concept is simple. I power up the trusty iPod, hit play and then push the shuffle button. The iPod randomly goes to one of my 1500 plus songs and I then write a blog about that song. It is risky business since my playlist is a bit eclectic. Today I decided to fire up the series again and the shuffle feature landed on a song by bluegrass singer Rhonda Vincent. God has a sense of humor. The song is called “You Don’t Love God If You Don’t Love Your Neighbor” and the lyrics begin like this.
There are many people
who will say they’re Christians
and they live like Christians on the Sabbath day
But come Monday morning, til the coming Sunday
They will fight their neighbor all along the way.
Oh you don’t love God, if you don’t love your neighbor
if you gossip about him, if you never have mercy
if he gets into trouble, and you don’t try to help him
then you don’t love your neighbor, and you don’t love God
I am going to keep my judge’s robe in the closet and not overstep my pay grade by evaluating your heart and whether you love God or not. But I can say from uncomfortable personal experience that if you are living the lyrics of the chorus above you may want to spend a little time in confession, repentance and prayer. The hypocrisy of so many who claim the name of Jesus Christ is the most consistent complaint that I hear from my tens of readers. I hear it from those who are churched, unchurched and those who wish they had an option other than church. Books like unChristian and research by George Barna document the disconnect between doctrine and our daily doings. When Bad Christians Happen To Good People addressed this topic eight years ago. By the way, the author of that book is well versed in what it means to be a bad Christian. Trust me.
So why does this disconnect happen? I have spent more time thinking about that topic than most. In my darker moments I suspect that Will Rogers did not go to church or he would have had to change his slogan.
I think some insight that I picked up from my buddies at Truefaced.com helped me to understand the issue.
Knowing truth does not transform lives. Only trusting truth transforms lives.
We have lots of people who have logged a lot of pew time. They have heard lots of truth and tons of teaching. They have memorized verses and they can speak fluent Churchianity. Yet they demonstrate little or no difference from their neighbors who go to church on Easter and Christmas or maybe never darken the church doors. How can that be?
I think that for too many Christians they have not trusted the truth they know. I am learning to put my full weight on the truths that are foundational. That God supernaturally changed me at the moment I put my trust in Jesus for my salvation. I became a new person. So my standing in God’s eyes is not about what I do but about who I am. Do I trust that truth? Do you?
Do you believe that God’s faithfulness and loving kindness and grace will sustain you in whatever circumstance you find yourself in? Are you willing to give up control and trust that God has your back and your best interests in His eternal plan? Or do you fear that He might require you to go or do something that you really don’t want to do? Does that kind of thinking make sense in light of what Paul writes about Christ?
Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. (Romans 5, NLT)
Do I really think that a God that loved me like that would punish me with a bad assignment because He is displeased with me? Jesus did not say that He came so that I could have life sporadically. He promised abundantly. So I am choosing to trust the truths that I have known for many years. He is trustworthy. His Word is true. I am wasting my time if I don’t put my full weight on those truths. Slowly and often awkwardly I am learning to do that. And it is changing me.