Maybe this is a prayer. Maybe its an open letter to myself. I think its both. I feel like Jeremiah.
“If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’ there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot” (Jer. 20:9).
I have burning fire on my heart. I’ve been looking at things lately in my own life, as well as in the lives of others around me. I look around and people who used to be filled with joy are hurting, empty, and becoming spiritual causalities. What do I mean by that? I guess, to put it frankly, they are spiritually dying. Spiritually starved.
I feel in my heart that many of us don’t remember that we’ve been saved. We used to be captivated by the scandalous message of Jesus—the Gospel of Christ that changed our hearts. We’re no longer captured by His grace, love, and mercy, but rather have become spiritual zombies. We’ve let the world, the old us, creep back in slowly…so slowly we didn’t’ even notice it was happening—and it put us into a free-fall of rapid spiritual digression. We have become slaves to rites and rituals, and not, as Paul calls himself and us, “slaves to Christ.” We’ve walled in ourselves to revert back, and at the same time wonder why we feel so empty; so malnourished, so dead. What happened to being “alive in Christ?” What happened to our joy? What happened to our zeal and incredible fervor for Jesus? Where did the joy of meeting with the community on Sunday morning retreat to? Why is the snooze button more appealing than worship?
Church, I must confess to you that a lot of my prayers have consisted of seven words lately: “I don’t know what to do, God.” But I feel that God has really put in my heart a probable solution. If we’re not going to let Jesus change us, then it’s absolutely, one hundred percent WORTHLESS. What good is it to sit and listen to a sermon? What good is it to nod your head and agree, then walk out the door and totally forget what you just heard? What good is it to say “Amen” when you know deep down that you think it sounds good, but you’re probably not going to walk out the door and apply it? What good is it to praise God with a heart that’s standing in line for other lovers (Sunday football, Golden Corral, naptime?) that take us back right to where God found us: dead and lifeless? What good is it to smile a fake and superficial smile and talk to everybody in a fake, non-interested way when you know, I know, they know that we’re all dying inside. Something isn’t right, Church!
I’m not OK, church. I’m not alright. I’m broken inside. God, please burn away my love for the static rituals and re-open my eyes to your glory! I feel like I’m more committed to rules and looking good and doing everything perfect than I am to Jesus. Here’s the thing I have forgotten: If I could do everything perfect, if I could perform everything right, if I could look better than anyone spiritually and that’s all that mattered, then Jesus Christ died for nothing. Truth is, if we could do it, we wouldn’t need Jesus, right? But guess what? We cannot ever, ever measure up to God’s standard. It’s time we realize that!
I feel like I have been lulled into slumber by the devil’s whispers and have lost sight of what really mattered. I know I’m not the only one feeling this way. But we can’t sit around and let Satan destroy us. I refuse to die, I refuse to back down, and I refuse to watch you do that either. Why? Because our God is the God who saves! He is our Rock, our Salvation, our Shield, our Refuge in times of trouble. He is the bread and water of life. Without Him, life ceases to exist! God calls us to die to ourselves and be transformed (Rom. 12:2) and become a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17)! God can change us, church, but we have to let Him. We have to ask God for that zeal back, for our courage, for our concern for the dying and lost! Without God and our willingness to transform, the church becomes an irrelevant, innocuous, and ineffective organization, rather than the living, breathing, growing ,organic organism that Christ died to purchase. When will we wake up? Just something to think about.