March 25, 2010

To Live is Christ — not checking off a list

Busy people need to keep track of their responsibilities. I’m a busy person with a to-do list that helps me remember everything from watering the plants to sending a card to a cousin in Oregon. Without my reminders, I would forget to wash windows until I couldn’t see out of them, or neglect dusting until I could write my name on the furniture. I’m not sure how other people keep track of what needs to be done, but I know that I cannot rely on taking notice of things because I can focus on one thing and be oblivious to everything else. I also cannot rely on my memory. Besides, some of these chores are just chores that never will hit the top of my “favorite occupation” lists.

However, Christianity is not a “check-list” religion. Pleasing God goes deeper than writing down a to-do list and marking things when completed. Today’s devotional reading included the following thoughts:

Lord, life would be easy if all I had to do to please You was to go through the motions. But action without conviction is like a black hole that robs us of Your pleasure. Instead, shattered pride and a broken heart keeps our relationship with You honest and our acts of worship true.
After being a Christian for nearly forty years, going to church easily becomes a habit instead of a glorious opportunity to worship God with His people. Prayer can also deteriorate into rote phrases filled with “God bless so-and-so” without even thinking about what I am saying or asking. As the devotional reading says, my heart needs a whack now and then to keep me from empty ritual.
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart — these, O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51:16–17)
I took that list from yesterday’s post to God in prayer. Countless memories filled my mind as I prayed through it. They say confession is good for the soul. Whoever “they” are, they are right.

To live is Christ means never taking God or my relationship with Him for granted. He has saved me from the penalty of sin, but salvation does not stop there. Sin still needs to be routed out. I will always need Him to expose my deadness of heart and my pride. I need Him to challenge that smug sense of having my life in order. As long as I walk this earth, there will be things true of me that are not pleasing to God, things that do not look like Jesus.

To live is Christ also means being sculpted and whittled at until self is gone and He takes preeminence. I’ve a long way to go before that happens. Thankfully, He will never stop working at this business of saving me, not just from sin’s penalty, but also from it’s power and its very presence.

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