Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Thought for Tuesday 23 June 2015

“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God, but exhort one another daily while it is called ‘Today’, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”  Hebrews 3:12-13 NKJV

Mutual accountability is a very hard concept for probably most Christians, and it has become more difficult in a society that loves to quote the Bible (“judge not”) but does not understand the “God breathed” element of the Holy Scripture.  It may also be said that we find it difficult to tell the difference between “judging” and “discerning”.  To “judge” is to render a final decision as if we know all we need to know; to “discern” is to know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, that which is “God-breathed” and that which is determined by the dominant culture.

What is more difficult to understand about mutual accountability (especially for those who are being challenged or called on their less-than-godly actions or words) is the depth of love required to call someone to account.  We know we risk what we believe to be valued friendships, but how much of a friend can we consider ourselves to be if we refuse to call a friend on his or her behavior that is demeaning and damaging to the Church and to their souls, challenging their gossip and hateful, hurtful words?  How much love can we be said to have for a friend if we can clearly see them running toward the edge of a cliff but do nothing to stop them before they fall into the abyss?

The truth is that whatever ‘love’ we may think we are feeling is actually ‘love’ directed at ourselves.  That is, we are unwilling to make an uncomfortable situation not because we don’t want a friend to feel badly but because we don’t want to feel badly ourselves.  It cannot be said we ‘love’ our friends or family members if we are unwilling to protect their immortal souls but are more concerned with our own feelings.

When we are among unchurched friends, we typically shy away from discussions about religion in general and The Lord specifically because we do not want to make our unchurched friends uncomfortable, but this cannot be construed as ‘love’ if we do not want to offer to them what we believe has given depth and meaning to our own lives.  This, too, is a form of self-love in that we are more concerned about how we will be personally affected, how we might alienate someone who will no longer want to spend time with us.

The Church today has gotten entirely too wrapped up in trying to be so ‘relevant’ to the unbelieving culture that we have freely surrendered our capacity to be faithful to The Lord and His Church.  We want to be ‘liked’, we want to be ‘popular’, we want people to invite us to their homes and their parties.  We don’t want to be considered a ‘downer’ or a Jesus freak.

Jesus assures us of many things, good things, things of life and joy and peace; but Jesus also assures us that being faithful to Him will bring dissension and conflict even among family and friends, and even loneliness and despair – IF we are too wrapped up in our own little world and not fully connected to Him and His Church, His Body, the “ekklesia”, His faithful.  It is a tall order for many of us because, frankly, Jesus is not so real to us.  He is a comfortable Sunday concept, but even this idea is not quite so clear when we consider how easily we can be swayed to not attend worship and Bible study and prayer gatherings.  The truth is we do not want Jesus ‘Today’; we only want Him at our deathbed.

But ‘Today’ is the only Day we can count on.  ‘Today’ is the only certainty we have in this world, in this life.  We are not promised ‘Tomorrow’, so ‘Today’ is our moment, our opportunity to turn things around for our families, our friends, our children, our grandchildren.  If we really want them to understand the fullness of life in faith, we must be living and breathing the reality of that faith and the joy it brings.  Faith and religion must never become incidental to us, our lives, and our daily choices.  Our faith and our religion must always be primary to everything else.  It is everything else which must become incidental.

We must learn to redirect our attention, redirect our focus, and be unapologetic for being faithful to The Lord, and for this we need our friends, our true friends, our brothers and sisters in Christ; for in all of Eternity and whatever that may mean, The Lord is all we have.  He is our ‘Today’, and only He can assure our ‘Tomorrow’.



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