September 19, 2023
“…They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour women’s houses and for a show make lengthy prayers…” (Mark 12:38-40, NIV).
He spoke of the Lord often as we addressed his malignancy, acknowledging Jesus as the one he trusted with his health. But somehow, he sidetracked us into a conversation about his sexual exploits in ways that were natural to him but too graphic for me. I was somewhat perplexed by these two lines of conversation that seemed a bit oxymoronic. I did not doubt his sincerity with both, but they did not fit well together. The day before this visit I was talking with a pastor patient about his church. He made the comment, “These folks like to have the Bible on them, but they don’t have the Bible in them.”
I once heard a different analogy, describing many Christians’ faith as chocolate icing on their own vanilla cake, when God wants His chocolate to swirl throughout the whole cake.
So many of us live with disconnects between our sincere faith and the way we live. Most are not as dramatic as the clashes within my patient above, but they may be just as dangerous to our Christian witness and our fellowship with God.
Do we repeatedly demonstrate frustration when others fail to come through in our timing, with our expectations?
Do we focus our casual conversations on getting from the world rather than giving to the world?
Do we live an entire week without going out of our way for someone who is struggling (outside of work)?
Are we dwelling on a relationship outside of God’s will?
Do we live an entire week without mentioning the name of Jesus except at home and church?
Do we often skip our daily personal devotion time?
Do we point others toward our personal achievements, rather than to God’s glory?
Do we drive past the beggars and leave them nothing?
All these behaviors are oxymoronic like my patient’s conversation.
All these demonstrate our faith as icing and not the whole cake.
All these are “having the Bible on us but not in us.”
We don’t earn God’s love by doing, but we prove our love for Him by doing.
Oswald Chambers said, “The test of love for Jesus Christ is the practical one, all the rest is sentimental jargon.”
I need to change.
Fill me with your Spirit until there is no cake in me without your chocolate.