Going To a Different Place, part 2

     I left you yesterday (3/11/2010) after saying that a Christian has not been filling his true role if the focus of his Christianity is on involvement in the church’s meetings and rituals. Now you might ask, “How can one be a ‘good’ Christian if he doesn’t faithfully attend church meetings and participate in the singing, Lord’s Supper, etc.?” Well, I didn’t say you shouldn’t do these things. I said it is not our purpose or goal or focus.

     There are many things God has commanded as part of Christian living. It is human nature to look for a checklist of these commands and chime, “I’m done!” when we think we have done the list. It goes without saying, the most likely command to be put on such a list is the one that we know is easily checked up on by each other: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…” (Hebrews 10:25a, KJV). But that idea of focusing on an easily seen “righteous act” reminds me of Jesus’ warning about the hypocrites: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them…” (Matthew 6:1a, ESV). Yes, we are to practice righteousness, but the idea isn’t to have a list of items we can check off when we are done.

     It’s like hiring a cleaning person for your office. A professional once told me about the wisest boss she ever had. When she went for the interview, he asked her no questions. Instead he paid her to clean one of the offices. She hadn’t come prepared for this, so he gave her supplies. She asked what all he wanted done; he said, “Clean the office.” She was smart enough to look through the supplies he gave her before beginning the task to see if she had everything a good cleaning would require. She asked about an item that was missing. He was impressed. He was also impressed that she was disappointed in the quality of the cleaning products. Notice: he didn’t ask if she could fulfill his checklist. He wanted to know that she was dedicated to the idea of getting his office clean.

     God isn’t interested in whether we can keep a weekly appointment and carry out some routine actions as he listed them in scripture. He wants to know if we are dedicated to the idea of righteousness in our lives. The person that is dedicated to righteousness will recognize the need to follow the commands. After all, the commands are the description of a righteous life.

     But it cannot be emphasized enough: following the commands is not the goal. The Spirit wrote this many ways in scripture. For today, let’s look at this one:

Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’ (Luke 17:7-10).

     After we have done everything we think God has commanded, there is still more that he can rightfully demand of us. That puts our Christian walk in an entirely different light. There is no way we can think, “I’ve done it all.” Perhaps we can say, “I have been faithful today.” That sets us up to also be faithful tomorrow. That’s a different attitude from the one in which many “Christians” currently reside. When we live this way, God is leading us to an entirely different place.


More on Monday!

Gary Greene


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