Warming the Pews

“My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.” -Ezekiel 33:31-32

Pretty harsh words from Ezekiel, but how true they are. We love God, we love our church and we say "Amen" to what our ministers proclaim, but when we step outside of the church doors, we revert back to our true selves. We run back to our devices, schedules, routines, busy work and focus our minds back on whatever it is that we want at the moment: what we want to eat, trying to get ahead, keeping ourselves entertained, how to get more money, obsessing over our appearance and figuring out how to make our earthly life more fun and comfortable.

So many of us believe that being a disciple of Christ is about going to church regularly, praying, reading the Bible, believing in Christ and avoiding sin, sinful thoughts and sinful people. And we believe we are following God when we "do the best we can" in whatever we do: our sports team, school work, careers or home life.

But in reality, serving God has nothing to do with whether we go to church regularly, become a star athlete, get straight As, get a promotion or raise well-behaved children, but has everything to do with how we are in relationship with the people at church, our sport team members, the teachers and students, our boss and co-workers and family members.

When at church, school, work or at home, are you welcoming, caring and compassionate or snooty, uncaring and judgmental? Are you picky about who you hang out with and steer clear from those people who don't appeal to you? As an athlete are you a fair player or aggressive and underhanded? Did you get your promotion by trampling on people all the way up? Were you a tyrant to your children because that was the only way to get them to behave?

We don't realize that what makes a Christian a child of God is the love in our hearts. In the same way that Jesus extends His love to all people is the same way we must be to all people, because we were all created by God with love.

This is what Ezekiel means when he says, "for they hear your words but do not put them into practice."

You see it's all about the people in our lives and how we deal with them, no matter who they are. Our love and treatment for all persons should be the same whether it is our best friend, stranger, foreigner, gay or straight, immigrant or a homeless person. Our love for others should not waiver just as Jesus' love never waivers.

How we deal with people is what God cares about, because it is through our dealings with them when our true selves emerge. When we practice Jesus' commandment to love others as much as we love ourselves, we are spreading His Gospel of Love. Jesus has given us the mission to spread His love so all people can come to know Him.

But when we makes sarcastic remarks, spit out judgment or give attitude, we are as people who don't know Jesus...as people who have no love.

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. - 1 John 4:8

We need to be sure that our involvement with ALL people in ALL situations includes the Love of Jesus. No judging, no stereotyping, no unfriendliness or trying to get something in return but with unselfish love, care, honesty, truth, understanding, fairness and compassion.

We have to look at ourselves and listen to the junk that is coming out of our minds and hearts and ask God to forgive us and help us do better. We need to ask Jesus to cleanse us of our self-centeredness that keeps us occupied and away from caring about the people who need God the most.

By sharing God's love each day, we are introducing God to every person we meet and affirming to them that our God is a great and loving God.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”- John 13:35

As Christians, Jesus commands us to be a part of the world, because the only way He reaches other people is THROUGH US. A listening ear, a helping hand, a kind word, an offer of friendship are all things that show people who our God is and how He loves us all.

That is the difference between agreeing with the words you hear from God and the real words that come out of your mouth and the real deeds you do with your hands.

We need to put into practice all that God has taught us and He has taught us to LOVE.

 

© 2019 Edrick


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