When my husband, Tim, was a (super-cute) little boy, he got in trouble one day.
It happened on a Sunday morning in the church parking lot. The service had already ended and while his parents visited with friends inside, Tim found a rock…now he just needed something to throw it at.
He looked around, and there it was – coming down the road. Perfect! A moving target!
As the car approached, Tim hauled off and threw with all his might.
This happened several times until…his dad found out.
Tim was so busted.
To make matters worse, his dad decided to wait until they got home to incorporate Tim’s punishment. Tim was sick about it. Hoping to avoid the inevitable, he became the sweetest, most loving child he could muster up – hoping to change his father’s mind.
On the ride home, he sang out, hoping his father would hear him and either forget or relent. But, unfortunately for Tim, 'Jesus Loves Me' and 'The B.I.B.L.E.' didn’t bail him out.
As soon as they pulled up to their home, his dad told Tim to meet him in the office (wa…wa…waaaa…).
Isaiah gave a prophecy saying, “these people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Jesus repeated those words Himself when talking about the religious.
Tim’s story and Isaiah’s prophecy have a lesson in them for us today and as much as I would rather give words full of atta-boys and way to gos – I can’t.
Because the rock throwing has to stop.
It just does.
It’s no secret that the world is full of crazy! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and discouraged.
I get it.
It’s a mess.
But when the words coming from the lips of God’s children are like so many rocks in the hands of a little boy, then we have issues.
I wrote last week about Sisterhood, about the need to be the safe place for one another within the walls of the Kingdom – and I stand by that still. But I also feel compelled to cry out to my brothers and sisters to stop throwing stones!
While in worship yesterday, as the church sang out about how God makes all things work together for our good – I saw it – the Western body of Christ, much like a little boy singing in the back seat on the ride home, hoping their Father will forget or ignore their sin – after all, look at us now – so clean, so happy, so sinless.
You see, Tim wasn’t singing his Sunday School songs for God…or even his dad. No, he was singing for himself.
He knew punishment was coming and he hoped his quick fix would reduce or even eliminate his impending punishment.
To worship God in order to gain His approval for our benefit is the exact same thing. And it’s idolatry. It is the worship of self.
God isn’t looking for worshippers whose only focus is what they, themselves, will gain from their act. That’s not true worship!
Either way, God still knows – He knows about the rocks we’re throwing at the world (filthy sinners), He knows about the stones thrown inside the church walls (did you hear what she did? eyeroll) and more than that – a cute outfit isn’t enough to hide the emotional affair you’re having at work… the neatly pressed shirt and tie aren’t enough to hide the secret links you like to pull up on your smart phone... He knows.
And He wants so much better for you.
All the singing….all the good works…all the Sunday morning attitude changes aren’t enough.
Is the world a mess?
But when our lives are just as messy, we have no business going out and condemning others just because their sin is open – and ours remains neatly hidden inside the whole Christian package.
It’s time for the church to shut their mouths for a moment and study their hearts. What are your motives? What are your thoughts? Do you hate your sister in the church? Are you justifying a secret sin?
It needs to end!
And when after the shutting up…the self analysis… the repentance is over and we find ourselves fully surrendered in the Presence of God, it is then we can rise up and honor Him with our lips from a pure heart.