I recently had to stop in the road because two little dogs had dashed into the street. One crossed the road, but the other got confused and was wandering. I prayed for the poor things, but then I realized what they’d been after and was floored.
A large dog was jogging beside a woman. He stayed right at her side, never seeming to even notice the little yapper that was chasing after him. He never broke stride, never looked away. He was doing EXACTLY what he’d been trained to do.
And he was carrying his own leash. Literally. He held it in his mouth as he jogged down the sidewalk beside a woman who obviously had total trust in him. And the two made me think.
In a sense, we’re all like that dog. God calls us to run along beside Him, but though He gives us a guide (the Word and the Spirit) that He could use as a leash to control us, He ultimately leaves the decisions up to us. What do we do? What do I do? Do I actively choose to walk faithfully beside Him, not turning to the right or left?
You walk in the door carrying your take-out coffee and get offended when you’re told you’ll have to leave it outside. You let your cell phone ring repeatedly. You let your child wander around. When you can tell it’s getting close to the end you start gathering your stuff together, and right before the official end you walk out the door.
It’s all pretty standard behavior in a movie theater, but I’m talking about church. I’ve seen all of this through the years, and much more, and it sickens me that we’ve reached a place culturally where such behavior is acceptable (by some) even in God’s house.
People leaving during the altar call is the worst. There are souls hanging in the balance. If we really are Christians we should be praying for those around us. Unfortunately too many seem to think they’re in a theater and the altar call is like the credits: Let’s leave now to beat the rush.
Celebrating Jesus anyway!
It is interesting, how we expect people to be perfect. Non-Christians despise Christians because of their imperfections. Christians leave churches because of other Christians’ weaknesses. We cannot seem to get past the fact that man, even Christian man, makes mistakes – sometimes horrible mistakes. Why? Where did we get this idea that Christians are perfect? That any man is even capable of perfection?
Look closely at well-known Bible stories and you quickly discover just how imperfect our heroes really were. Moses, my personal favorite, had such a temper that it caused him to first flee Egypt and then lose the right to enter the Promised Land. Abraham walked in fear where his wife was concerned and practiced deceit as a result. So did Isaac. Jacob deceived his own father. David gave in to base lust, then murdered a man. Solomon… Wow.
From our earliest days, man has been imperfect. This is exactly why we needed a Savior, the Perfect Lamb. Having accepted His sacrifice, His great love that takes me – imperfect as I am – and makes me His own, I do not have the right to hold other Christians’ imperfections again them.
As was true in the past, it is true today. Nobody’s perfect.
For those who wonder how I can possible serve a God I cannot see, this is how. Yes, when I accepted Jesus as my Savior, I did it in faith. I did it because what the minister said made sense, and I liked what I saw in the lives of those I knew served Him.
As I made Him Lord of my life, committing time to get to know Him, we began to build a genuine relationship. This relationship that you can’t see is why I continue to serve Him after all these years.
I explained once, to a friend, that I had never seen her father, had no proof of his existence beyond what she had told me of their relationship. Based on what I could not see, I had the option of choosing to believe he did not exist. I chose to believe he did, because I trusted my friend and believed what she told me about their relationship.
How can you have a relationship with someone you can’t touch and feel? People do it all the time over the Internet. For decades, we’ve been developing relationships with people we may or may not ever meet in person. Sometimes we even feel closer to those distant friends than we do to the ones in our “real lives.”
My relationship with God is like that. I am closer to Him than anyone around me. He’s inside me, knows me better than I know myself. Have I ever seen him? Well, I’ve actually had two visions of Jesus, so yes…but even if I had not it would make no difference, because seeing isn’t necessary to relationship. Feeling isn’t necessary to relationship. Only knowing is necessary to relationship and oh, yes, I do know Him.