For those of us who profess to be Christian, why do we worship God? What is it about Jesus Christ that we claim we cling to while singing our worship songs on Sunday morning? Unfortunately, it often does not follow us throughout the rest of our week in our interactions with others and in the midst of our own self-seeking ways. And “being nice” is no proof of genuine Christianity as anyone is capable of “being nice” if they choose to be. Our actions (and the motives behind them) lived out on a daily basis can give us some clues as to the depth, or lack of it, regarding our true feelings for and about God. Merely looking and acting “religious” on the outside (for the benefits of others and ourselves) has nothing to do with the truth.
In a devotion by A.W. Tozer (1897-1963) titled, “Truth Divorced From Life,” in the devotional book titled, “Tozer on The Almighty God,” compiled by Ron Eggert and published in 2004, Tozer states the following:
There is scarcely anything so dull and meaningless as Bible doctrine taught for its own sake. Truth divorced from life is not truth in its biblical sense, but something else and something less. Theology is a set of facts concerning God, man and the world. These facts may be and often are set forth as values in themselves; and there lies the snare both for the teacher and for the hearer . . . .
The Bible, however, is more than a volume of hitherto unknown facts about God, man and the universe. It is a book of exhortation based upon those facts. By far the greater portion of the book is devoted to an urgent effort to persuade people to alter their ways and bring their lives into harmony with the will of God . . . .
No man is better for knowing that God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth. The devil knows that, and so did Ahab and Judas Iscariot. No man is better for knowing that God so loved the world of men that He gave His only begotten Son to die for their redemption. In hell there are millions who know that. Theological truth is useless until it is obeyed. The purpose behind all doctrine is to secure moral action. (Devotion for September 6)
Action . . . the kind that goes to the heart of everything that we do. Why do we do it? And what is behind that “action”? Self? Or God? Too often, it is self. Tozer goes on to state the following in another devotion titled, “Universally Misunderstood,” in the same book mentioned above:
We can only conclude that Jesus is universally popular today because He is universally misunderstood.
Everyone admires Jesus, but almost no one takes Him seriously. He is considered a kindly idealist who loved babies and underprivileged persons. He is pictured as a gentle dreamer who was naive enough to believe in human goodness and brave enough to die for His belief. The world thinks of Him as meek, selfless and loving, and values Him because He was what we all are at heart, or would be if things were not so tough and we had more time to cultivate our virtues. Or He is a sweet, holy symbol of something too fine, too beautiful, to be real, but something which we would not lose nevertheless from our treasure house of precious things.
Because the human mind has two compartments, the practical and the ideal, people are able to live comfortably with their dreamy, romantic conception of Jesus while paying no attention whatsoever to His words. It is this neat division between the fanciful and the real that enables countless thousands of persons to say, “Lord, Lord” in all sincerity while living every moment in flat defiance of His authority. (Devotion for July 14)
“Living every moment in flat defiance of His authority” . . . . How often do our wants and our desires usurp Jesus Christ’s authority over our lives? Too often, in many cases. All we need to do is ask ourselves why we are doing what we do at any given moment and it becomes pretty clear who is in charge most of the time.
Here is another devotion by Tozer from the same book mentioned above titled, “Both Easy and Difficult”:
But the God we must see is not the utilitarian God who is having such a run of popularity today, whose chief claim to men’s attention is His ability to bring them success in their various undertakings and who for that reason is being cajoled and flattered by everyone who wants a favor. The God we must learn to know is the Majesty in the heavens, God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, the only wise God our Saviour . . . .
Knowledge of such a Being cannot be gained by study alone. It comes by a wisdom that natural man knows nothing of, neither can know, because it is spiritually discerned. To know God is at once the easiest and the most difficult thing in the world. It is easy because the knowledge is not won by hard mental toil, but is something freely given. As sunlight falls free on the open field, so the knowledge of the holy God is a free gift to men who are open to receive it. But this knowledge is difficult because there are conditions to be met and the obstinate nature of fallen man does not take kindly to them. (Devotion for January 24)
Read that last sentence again . . . “But this knowledge is difficult because there are conditions to be met and the obstinate nature of fallen man does not take kindly to them.” And on the following page Tozer goes on to state in a devotion titled, “A Vast Difference,” the following:
It is possible to grow up in a church, learn the catechism and have everything done to us that they do to us, within reason. But after we have done all that, we many not know God at all, because God isn’t known by those external things. We are blind and can’t see, because the things of God no man knows but by the Spirit of God . . . .
We imagine that we can handle it by the flesh, and we do handle it by the flesh–the Lord lets us do it. We can hold the creed and not know God in His person at all. We can know the doctrine and not know spiritual things at all. The fearful consequence is that many people know about God but don’t know God Himself. There is a vast difference between knowing about God and knowing God–a vast difference! . . . .
So it is that the human being can know about God, can know about Christ’s dying for him, can even write songs and books, can be the head of religious organizations and hold important church offices–and still never have come to the vital, personal knowledge of God at all. Only by the Holy Spirit can we know God. (Devotion for January 25)
Too often we only have a head knowledge–and not a genuine heart knowledge–of God and Jesus Christ. And without genuine repentance that head knowledge can fool both us and those around us. And it is a deadly place to be, for there is no genuine repentance that brings about change in us–a giving over of our own desires to the will of God.
It is quite possible to get all emotional on Sunday morning while singing worships songs, but where the rubber meets the road is how we treat others (all others and not just those we choose to like for whatever our reasons) and who we are really living for during the rest of the week.
Jesus stated the following after his resurrection in Matthew 28:18-20:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
And what are the commands of Jesus Christ? The following is taken from the opening paragraph on “Institute of Basic Life Principles”:
Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Keeping the commands of Jesus begins with recognizing what they are. Following (see link) is a collection of 49 of Jesus’ commands. As you read through them, ask God to help you observe these words, apply them, and faithfully follow them throughout your lifetime. (Click here for the compiled list).
I’m not including the link to that list to overwhelm anyone as it overwhelms me if I think I have to try to do any of them in my own power. Nobody can do them in their own power. However, the first one on the list brings about the ability to accomplish the rest, and that first one is repentance. Without genuine repentance the rest won’t matter. And we can’t do the rest without the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us enabling us to accomplish them. And it might surprise us to see just what some of the items are on that list, such as: following after Jesus; rejoicing; going the second mile; letting your light shine before others; keeping your word; loving your enemies; laying up treasures in heaven and not here on earth; and seeking God’s kingdom instead of one of our own making. And the reality is that it is not just about a “list,” but about a heart attitude. Who is it that we really want to serve? Jesus or ourselves?
Jesus stated the following in Matthew 11:28-30:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Too often we perceive Jesus to be described as in the devotion above titled, “Universally Misunderstood,” and he is anything but weak and/or timid or someone we can just push aside as a nice guy or sweet, holy symbol of our religion (see blog posts titled “Not a Tame Lion” and “Not A Timid Christianity”). He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lord and all authority has been given to him by God the Father (see Matthew 28:18-20).
It’s easy (and deadly) to only have a head knowledge about God and Jesus Christ without any genuine change in heart attitude that comes from repentance. As Tozer stated above, “No man is better for knowing that God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth. The devil knows that, and so did Ahab and Judas Iscariot. No man is better for knowing that God so loved the world of men that He gave His only begotten Son to die for their redemption. In hell there are millions who know that. Theological truth is useless until it is obeyed . . . .”
Our faith, if it is genuine, requires obedience . . . .
Holy, Holy, Holy
Is The Lord God Almighty
Who Was And Is
And Is To Come!
YouTube Video: “Revelation Song” sung by Phillips, Craig & Dean: