“When you dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive.” ~ Proverbs 23:1-3
I am seeing a big struggle lately to strike that balance of ‘living in the world but not of the world’. I’m with you, believe me; it can be tough to find.
It’s a difficult balance to strike, which to me makes sense because the Christian walk was never promised to be easy. Difficulty doesn’t bother me much. What bothers me a bit is that somewhere in that struggle, God’s word is being stretched. His boundaries and His warnings are pretty clear, and yet there’s a big tendency to tweak them in order to suit our own needs and desires of the day. It’s easy to say “I don’t want to be rude, so I’ll ____”, or “The bible says this leads to death; that must be metaphorical”. You might be right on that last one, but I personally think “death” can take many forms (spiritual death, death of a destiny or task God needed you to do; physical death is really the least of them in my opinion). But I digress.
In short, I see a lot of people trying to best God at His own plan. And it doesn’t work. We think we know our lives better. We think we’re smarter and other people just don’t get it. We think it’s just this once. We think we’re invincible because we do pray after all. We taste the delicacies of those around us, and find we have an appetite for them after all. And so we feed that appetite. Maybe not in a gluttonous way, at least not at first. But it doesn’t have to be. The more we taste those delicacies and feed those appetites, the less we are relying on God for our daily bread. The more we go for things that we ‘want’, the less we desire the things of God that we actually need. The damage can be subtle. We may not stop praying, but we might start to pick and choose what we pray about rather than giving God everything. We might still go to Church, but we are quicker to dismiss counsel from other Christians because “they don’t get it”. Slowly, our passion for Jesus dulls as these other things take precedence.
These other desires take precedence in our hearts slowly but surely – be they for a person, a lifestyle, money, whatever. They become idols within us, our own personal Babylons (I blogged about personal Babylons before – especially here with the first Leaving Babylon post). God clearly warns us against it. But we don’t heed the warnings because we humans are pros at self-denial and self-justification. We think we’re fine. Or we simply don’t want to hear that we aren’t. And it affects everything – our prayer life, our thought life, our connection with God, our discernment and ability to hear things like prophecies. Everything suddenly gets twisted and centered around these earthly things, and away from what God wants us to hear.
As Christians, we must be on our guard for this. It’s God’s plan; not ours. God is God; we are not. And neither is anything else. The boundaries are His; we can’t shift them. We’re in way over our heads if we try to twist His words to suit our own needs. And yet it’s a rampant attitude. So I invite you today to join me in bringing yourself before the Lord and letting Him in to examine your heart. Really, really examine it, and flush out any of these twisted ideas. Maybe there’s just a truth He revealed to you before that He wants to expand on. Whatever it may be, let God in to reveal it to you and be open and humble to receive the change.
Awesome post and true.
You’ve hit on something I’ve noticed about the “modern” church. In attempting to reach the “un-churched” I’ve found many congregations are indistinguishable from social clubs or secular concerts. The original premise was the make the “un-churched” more comfortable in a familiar setting but in many of these places I’ve found it too comfortable in that it appears secular more so than sacred. I’m wondering if what you’re describing is partially due to the individual Christian simply not finding a sacred environment when they attend a corporate worship? How can we “be not of this world” when the body we attest to being a part of appears more and more to be “of the world”?
That is definitely part of the problem. I am still searching for my true church in NYC and recently left one because every week it seemed like the preaching was on how to make God approachable, and how to make Him fit in our lives…it shouldn’t be about that. God’s already approachable (all we have to do is pray!), and He shouldn’t be condensed to fit anywhere. If I can’t fit God in, it’s my priorities that need to change, not God’s Word. But we have such an entitled attitude, both individually and in the church as a whole, that we sometimes lose sight of that. I’ve been learning more and more though, that even when witnessing, the more we mold God to fit someone’s circumstances or beliefs, the less effective it is. God’s full power and full glory is what will change hearts.
Great comment! We do continually try to mold God into our terms, don’t we?
There is great freedom in God’s boundaries! Thanks for sharing.
This is awesome! Such truth to this!