Much of life is what I call ‘doing the dailies,’ all the things that must be done. We care for our homes, our cars, our bodies, our souls because if we don’t – things get messy. Yesterday I drove by the house our family lived in 55 years ago. It was once a beautiful place, nicely maintained lawns surrounding a stately Federal style home. Now it is in a state of decay, obviously neglected. What I saw was an obvious result of years of letting things go undone.
The writer of the Proverb says “I walked by the field of a lazy person, the vineyard of one lacking sense. I saw that it was overgrown with thorns. It was covered with weeds, and its walls were broken down. Then, as I looked and thought about it, I learned this lesson: A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.” (Proverbs 24:30-34, NLT)
Before you object to this thought reminding me that Christians are “saved by grace not by works” I will hasten to add that I am not talking about trying to work your way into a right relationship with God or prove to Him or others how good you are! The heart of Christianity is the love of Christ Jesus shown to us while we were still rebelling against Him. We focus on Him, receiving His love and loving Him in return.
This love, however, is not divorced from everyday life. There is an old phrase, much used among evangelical Christians, one I have repeated a thousand times over the years: “It’s not about religion, it’s a relationship.” That’s true yet it misses the point somewhat. That word, religion, isn’t a dirty one. It comes from a Latin word that meant to ‘bind, to bundle.’
IF we truly love Jesus we most definitely will make a practice of living a way that reflects the commitment we have made, that we have bound ourselves in love to Him. God says that loving Him is illustrated by marriage. A man and a woman develop an interest in each other that turns into desire which leads them to choose to make a commitment. They share vows in the presence of friends and family, before the Lord. With their relationship there comes a “religion” (a binding) to “have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law, and this is my solemn vow.” Honoring those vows lays a foundation for fulfillment.
Yes, the relationship must come first. We cannot ‘work’ our way into God’s favor by just acting like a Christian! We give ourselves, in full faith that responds to His invitation, to Him. Our passion is to know Him, and being loved, to live in love. Much of the time, that is not grandiose or glorious efforts; it is expressed in the daily choice to love, to serve, to truth, to forgive, to share the needs of others, to be good in the face of evil. Yes, think of marriage once again.
No marriage can be sustained by expensive gifts, great sex, or grand vacations. (OK, I heard somebody say, “How about we try that?”) Real love is expressed in the daily choice to care for our spouse, to give encouragement, to serve her. That need not be grim duty. There can be real delight in those ordinary moments of making a shared life.
The most exciting and fulfilling Christian experience cannot be based on chasing some glorious worship experience or looking for an exciting preacher to stir the soul. We choose to serve Jesus, for love’s sake, and in ‘doing the dailies’ we discover a depth of intimacy that is solid, stable, and leads us to joy. Are you building your spiritual house, caring for it with prayer, worship, meditation, and yes; making the choices to prioritize Him even when it is tough to do so? Or, have you settled to drift along, letting things go, the decay gradually settling in?
The word from the Word today is a text I love. I have used The Message, a contemporary paraphrase of Scripture, to aid in grasping the way that His love and our response are woven together to find God’s best! Let it become a word of hope and challenge for you today. “It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life. …
I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is He is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength! ” (Ephesians 1:13-14,17-19, The Message)
Lord I come to You
Let my heart be changed renewed
Flowing from the grace
That I found in You
And Lord I’ve come to know
The weaknesses I see in me
Will be stripped away
By the pow’r of Your love
Hold me close
Let Your love surround me
Bring me near
Draw me to Your side
And as I wait
I’ll rise up like the eagle
And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the pow’r of Your love
Lord unveil my eyes
Let me see You face to face
The knowledge of Your love
As You live in me
Lord renew my mind
As Your will unfolds in my life
In living ev’ry day
By the pow’r of Your love
Geoff Bullock © 1992 Geoff Bullock Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)
CCLI License # 810055