Christ as Lord?

Christian Century magazine (1/9/2007) reports that Americans ‘have difficulty putting their remotes where their mouths are.’ A poll commissioned by the American Bible Society and conducted by the reputable Zogby firm found that 85% of people say that they want less sex and violence on TV. They also said that they would like to see more religious values reflected in entertainment. Yet, at the same time, the Nielsen rating system showed that the top 10 TV programs in terms of audience share were those laden with sex and violence: Desperate Housewives, Criminal Minds, Grey’s Anatomy among them. So are we (Americans in general) just hypocrites or have we created some kind of imaginary wall between what we profess to believe and how we act? Both are true.

All of us tend to talk a better line than we walk, don’t we? By way of illustration consider this. Believers universally profess that prayer is an important part of the Christian life, and yet a majority of evangelical Christian pastors report that they spend less than 15 minutes a day in focused times of prayer! What does that sorry fact imply about the prayer lives of those people on the other side of the pulpit? Many intend to have better prayer practices than they do in reality. They are not trying to appear more spiritual than they are, which is truly hypocritical; they just neglect the important in favor of responding to the urgent! So some of the gap between faith and practice results from setting high goals, but falling short unintentionally.

I am much more concerned that some Believers have learned to bend their brains like pretzels claiming to be disciples of Jesus Christ and meaning it; yet at the same time, persist in actions that are hateful, selfish, greedy, and/or immoral! They ‘believe’ that they can simultaneously claim Jesus is Lord and serve their own agenda without being even vaguely aware of their lack of integrity! This is not about those momentary lapses into ungodly behavior in the heat of an emotional moment. This is about those ongoing choices that are clearly wrong, for which there is ample Scriptural guidance, that Believers continue to do despite knowing better at some level! Jesus pointedly asks – “why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46, NKJV) Separating faith from practice is an old, old sin. Isaiah wrote of God’s lament over Judah 2600 years ago! “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Isaiah 29:13, NLT)

The results of this kind of hypocrisy are many. There is the lack of true joy in the things of God. A Believer whose daily life is filthy with sin cannot enjoy the Presence of a Holy God. When he comes to worship, he will feel only conviction and want to hide himself from the Spirit of God. There is lack of genuine spiritual power. The compromised Believer has no ability to be ‘salt and light’ influencing and preserving his world because the Spirit cannot operate through him. The hypocritical Believer disgraces His Lord! Though he may be unaware of the gap between his belief and his actions, others are – particularly those who are looking for a reason to refuse the Lordship of Jesus. So, when the talk is unmatched by the walk, they are able to point and say, “See, Christianity does not work.”

How do we integrate our profession of faith with our daily lives?

First, we consecrate Christ as Lord daily! When I awaken in the morning, one of the prayers that I breathe is quoted from the Psalms. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14, NKJV) Am I perfect? No! But I state to Him and to myself that He is Lord.

Second, we learn to think Biblically! Romans 12 calls on us to “Let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.” (Romans 12:2, CEV) Our minds need to be full of Scripture. We need to read the Word, hear the Word, pray the Word so that the values and principles of God’s Truth become the foundation for our lives – in thought, and then in action.

Third, we become part of a holy huddle! When the football team steps away from the line and those men put their heads together for several seconds, they are getting the play from the quarterback, regrouping and getting ready to move the ball in a team effort. Living as a Believer of deep faith requires a team, too! “My friends, watch out! Don’t let evil thoughts or doubts make any of you turn from the living God. You must encourage one another each day. And you must keep on while there is still a time that can be called “today.” If you don’t, then sin may fool some of you.” (Hebrews 3:12-13, CEV) Call out the best effort in each other. Get on the same page. Challenge one another to a high level of service.

Fourth, we kneel at the Cross! I cannot be holy by my best intentions, nor can you. We are ‘made holy,’ by Christ. So, day by day, we kneel at the Cross to be washed, to be renewed in our acceptance of a holiness that is not of our own making. The remarkable declaration of the Word is this – “For He (God) made Him (Jesus Christ) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NKJV)

Believer – let us live in the beauty of holiness, for God’s sake. Amen.

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