Religious?: Logs & Splinters

John 8:58 “‘Very truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.”

I’m reading John 8, where Jesus calls Himself “I Am,” and then has to slip away from the temple to avoid them stoning Him.  Think about that.  He comes to His creation, and is in the temple – where the whole purpose of the people there is to love and serve the Lord – and they don’t recognize Him at all, in fact, they want to kill Him.  They hate Him!

It’s absurd, and sobering.  It’s why I get offended when someone says I’m religious.  Sure, I attend church.  I lead in the music part of worship.  I certainly would hope that if Christ came to visit in my church in bodily form that, as He says there in John, I would recognize Him and love Him!’

But would I?  I’ve worked with a few pastors, elders, deacons, whom I know intended to be serving God in what they were doing, but the choices they made were scary, totally not what God would choose.   Blinded by the ways of the world, perhaps by how they were brought up, or some chemical imbalance, something I couldn’t see on my end, they chose what seemed good in their own eyes to accomplish the end goal of serving God.  

And in the truth of taking care of the log in my own eye before I go picking at the splinter in someone else’s, I have to ask, “Am I doing the same?”  Am I?  

It’s not easy to see ourselves as others in the world see us.  How do people see me?  Am I kind and gracious, full of love for them, so that they know in an instant that I would forgive any stumbling, any misstep – even if imagined?  Do they see kindness and long-suffering (patience) in my demeanor, or the surety that they are stupid and disappointing me in how I respond?  Do I choose the good of others above myself?  Do I cling to my temporary treasures or freely give them away, knowing that my treasure is actually in heaven and I gain more, the more I give away?  

How do I define love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control?  If I’m honest, I most likely redefine them each in light of what is easiest for me, not in light of how much further I need to change to reflect them truly.  I choose comfort over stepping out and making sure that my neighbor is comfortable.  I choose security, rather than insuring the safety of my neighbor.  

My head says I belong to the Lord, that I choose to obey Him and honor Him with my life.  That my life is no longer my own, that I have forfeited it to Him in deference to the gift of Life He has given me, and I claim and hold to that in selfishness, because everything I do for Him makes my life better, benefits my soul, makes me whole.

But my heart betrays me, as I sit for hours watching TV, eating yummy food, sending checks, but not myself.   “Checking out,” as it were. 

“But I pray!”  

Yes, that is true, and that is more necessary than most would think, AND it is more half-hearted (quarter-hearted, or is that still too generous?) than it should be.  Yes, I pray.  And then I go on with my life, moving around the perimeter of being changed, but not truly being changed, or at least not showing that change in tangible ways.

Where is my log?  How much of my sight is it blocking?  Am I simply a religious person, living in the world of religion, but not truly loving the Lord as I should, not knowing Him if I tripped over Him?  Have I cut corners, thinking that the end justifies the means?  

Or am I listening intently to the Giver of Life, being obedient as I wait, and then acting when I am led, determined to give everything for the One who has truly Given Everything for me?  

I am tormented by the thought that perhaps I will never truly know the answer to this until it is too late . . . am I “Dangerous*,” or just giving off that impression without any substance?

DANGEROUS, lyrics by DecembeRadio

I see a world in need out on the wire
I’ll take a leap of faith into the fire
I’m going over the edge now
Yeah, I’m ready to reach out

I wanna be dangerous
Unashamed to proclaim Your name
I wanna be dangerous!
I can’t hide or deny what’s inside
I wanna be dangerous!

So many times I fail to even try
I compromise my faith by standing by
I’m going over the edge now
Yeah, I’m ready to reach out

I wanna be dangerous
Unashamed to proclaim Your name
I wanna be dangerous!
I can’t hide or deny what’s inside
I wanna be dangerous!

My mind is made up and I’m ready
I’m goin’ over the edge
I’m steppin’ out on the wire
Come on

I wanna be dangerous
Unashamed to proclaim Your name
I wanna be dangerous!
I can’t hide or deny what’s inside
I wanna be dangerous!

I wanna be dangerous!   I wanna be dangerous!

I do know that the One who lives within me is far more Dangerous than the prince of this world would have me believe, would have me rely on.  And that to become Dangerous only requires that I rely genuinely and only on Him.  Loving as He teaches me to Love, growing every day in my understanding of that Love, and each of the other fruits of the Spirit.  Because they are from Him and can only be perfected in me by Him.

Religious?  No!  Dangerous?  Hell, yeah!  (And, yes, I am grinning . . . !)

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About CherJ

Singer, Entrepreneur, Writer, Lover of God, Reader, Member of DRM Band, First Congregational Church at Kingston, Newton Campus (say that five times fast - I dare ya!,) CEO of USAi.net, Inc.
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