Last week, our family enjoyed a wonderful “stay-cation” at home. Our days were a combination of action-packed local fun activities, as well as relaxed, lazy days of just being at home. The days passed by way to quickly, and we all concluded that we would choose this “vacation spot” again. The best part for me was not having to do a bit of packing or unpacking! It was awesome! (This is one of my least favorite jobs, even though I really should be a pro at it by now!)
Since we live in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, we are surrounded by gorgeous mountain scenery, waterfalls, and ample trails for hiking. We took advantage of a number of places in our area that other people drive for hours to see and experience. Our little girls enjoyed the treks through the woods, in spite of the nasty tics that were determined to become imbedded in two of us!
After nearly an hour and a half of rough terrain, my husband needed to help our tired three-year old, as she began tripping and stumbling repeatedly. I was struck by a spiritual analogy that supported something that God had been laying on my heart.
In Jude 1: 24, we read, “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you FAULTLESS before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy…” If it is God’s will that we walk in victory and if He is able to keep us from falling into sin, why are churches filled with so many stumbling and falling Christians? Where is the victory that is promised to us when we are in spiritual battle? Why are so many husbands and spiritual leaders in our homes bound by pornography? Why are there so many ungrateful, slandering, and unhappy wives and mothers? What is the cause of wayward and rebellious teenagers — teenagers that have been raised in the church and know God’s word? Is there any hope for our churches or the future of our children? Whatever happened to holiness?
In reading various books, blogs, and articles, I see the theme of shallow Christianity that has been the downfall of today’s churches. We are producing shallow Christians, and the result of this shallowness is very evident in our society. It is appalling when you meet someone who has a terrible attitude and uses dirty words in a moment of anger, only to discover that they publicly profess to be a Bible-believing Christian. We justify these actions because they were just having a “bad day.” I’m afraid that we’ve taken the very nature of God and have portrayed a twisted view of Who He is. We teach that God is loving, merciful, and forgiving, and He accepts each of us individually just as we are. This isn’t completely accurate! The ONLY way He accepts us is when we come to Him in brokenness and repentance, and He sees us through the cleansing blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.
When we leave out the “just” part of who God is and begin “teetering” on the side of His love and forgiveness, we are being a spiritual stumbling block to others. Rather than taking the risk of offending someone or being accused of judging, we share only the message of God’s love and mercy; leaving out the part regarding their sin, the wrong choices they are making, and God’s justice. There is a balancing truth to everything taught in the Bible and this is one of these examples. Although it’s true that God IS loving, merciful, and forgiving, He IS also holy and just. When we take a truth and teach it out of balance, then it ends up becoming false.
Just a few minutes ago, I heard this statement coming from one of our local, Christian, radio station, “You don’t have to try harder or work more! Just relax! You are loved!” Do you recognize the half truth in this simple statement? It’s true that you don’t have to try in your own strength, but, in reality, you cannot just relax in God’s love, once you recognize your sinful nature. You need to be fully proactive and intentional in claiming more of God’s grace and growing more in His likeness. These are ACTION words and not simply state of BEING words!
Recently, we became aware of a man who has never believed in the existence of God, nevertheless, because of a major “blow” to his family, he began praying to God. However, in frustration, he declared that God doesn’t hear his prayers. I don’t know how you would respond to this statement but most of us would respond by telling him, “Of course God hears you! He is a loving, forgiving God and He is just waiting for you to pray to Him. He loves you so much! He may not always answer your prayer the way you want Him to, but He definitely hears you.”
This is again a false picture of who God is and how He works and moves. I wholeheartedly believe this man, and I agree that God probably doesn’t hear any of his prayers. Psalms 66:18 is clear: “If I regard (consider, or be connected to in any way) iniquity (sin, immorality) in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Instead of being told that God is hearing his prayers, this man needs to be taken to God’s word and be lovingly made aware that the reason God does not hear his prayers is because of the sin that is in his life. One of his most obvious one being the sin of unbelief! God will only hear his prayer as he repents and turns away from his sin. His first step needs to be believing and confessing that there is a God, and then asking God to forgive him of all his sins.
What would happen if each of us would stop teaching and preaching a fluffy, feel-good religion and begin sharing the messages of Jonah and John the Baptist? Repent! The kingdom of heaven is at hand! The message of accepting each other as we are is NOT the complete message we need to be sharing! The alcoholics, drug addicts, and homosexuals don’t need to be told that they have a disease or were born with alternate desires. They need to be taken to the word of God to see what our holy God says about their condition. This sugarcoated message of Christianity is leading many sin-bound individuals directly to their eternal damnation. Unfortunately, this also involves a vast amount of churchgoing people.
It is time to wake up from our complacency and see sin and failure like God does. It is time to begin sharing about the holiness of God and how He abhors and punishes sin. We don’t need to judge anyone, God through His word is the judge! All we need to do is stop sharing an incorrect gospel and begin SHOWING others that there is a way to walk in victory.
God is our heavenly “Daddy” who wants to reach down His hand and guide us as we walk in our journey through life. What if our daughter, Kyra, would have continued to struggle and refused to accept the help that was offered to her? Instead, she gratefully chose to reach up and accept the hand that was gently reaching down to her. This supported her and gave the necessary help in continuing to walk up the trail.
We, as believers, may occasionally stumble, but it definitely shouldn’t be a way of life. We should be quick to repent before God and others and then allow God to carry us to higher levels of spiritual maturity after each fall.
What kind of Christian are you? Do you exemplify many fruits of the spirit and cause others to desire the same victory that you possess? Are sinners convicted by your lifestyle, or does it condone their own sin? Rather than continuing to trip and fall, begin recognizing and acknowledging the ugliness of your sin and crying out to God in repentance. Your “Daddy” God is waiting to carry you when you realize that you can’t make it on your own!