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Lead On, People of God. Have done with lesser things!
July 10, 2018, 12:00 AM

An old Gospel tune puts it this way: "Rise up, o men of God! The church for you doth wait, Her strength unequal to her task; rise up, and make her great!"  

A quote from a book on the theology of the cross says: "Sin lurks in the most pious of places." 

And how true it is! And I could give many similar quotations, but first let's play with the themes presented here.

We are all--for sure--EXPERTS at seeing the sins and failures of others, but what about us? What about our Christian piety and life? How have our actions and words directed others to Christ or...gulp...directed them away from Christ, damaged God's reputation, or caused others to question the Faith? Have our actions and words "made the church great" or made the church feel more like a bad community organization?

I was blessed to take a family vacation recently. As I sat on the coast of Oregon near the famed Haystack Rock--one of the most gorgeous places on earth, I must say!--I reflected honestly on my own spiritual life. How often am I only reading Scripture to prepare for a sermon, Bible class, or blog post? How often am I praying only problems at God, instead of gratitude and praise for Who He is? Am I "making hay" for God when I have opportunity, or sitting by hoping that His blessings come my way--without the work of prayer? 

If each sinful heart looks away from God at the forbidden fruits of the world; if our sinful hearts find the sin they know is wrong but secretly enjoy it; if all of that is true, then no wonder Christian prayer takes work. It takes a militant attitude toward our own hearts, which lead us astray (Matthew 15:19-20). Some of the worst advice in all of history is to "follow your own heart." For God's sake, don't! We must follow Christ and his Way, the narrow Way--the one that costs everything we have. And, now, I know what people mean when they say follow your heart--perhaps they're talking about finding a good vocation, or knowing what your talents are, or being true to one's upbringing as polite company and decent citizens of a nation. 

Yet there is the one, aching problem in our same-divorce-rate and everything-else Church of Today in America: evidently we don't take much time to correctly evaluate our heart of hearts. As Billy Graham used to say, "We're not sinners because we sin; we sin because we're sinners." And that is biblical. Have you ever read King David's bold confession of sins in Psalm 51? There he says, "Surely I have been sinful from birth, from the day that my mother conceived me." It is a problem that we must address daily, or we risk drifting away. 

Exactly five-hundred years ago, a meager servant of God by the name of Martin Luther was busy with a disputation, or academic debate, on the topic of what it means to be a theologian of the cross. (Or, we might say for our purposes here, to be a Christian who really & truly takes up the cross to follow Jesus. Not only sometimes or when with other Christians, but in front of the world, and against persecution if that should come.) In the disputation, he says that the law of God can NEVER rescue us from our sin. It was in this context that another writer said "Sin lurks in the most pious of places." (The late professor Gerhard Forde.) Other versions of this are something akin to "wherever there's a church, the devil builds a chapel." And so on, I think you get the idea.  

But, you see, only the good news of Jesus Christ can rescue us from ourselves! Jesus has taken all of our most-pious platitudes that cover our shame and FORGIVEN them. He has set us free to be Resurrection People. (Romans 5-6)

Now there. As much as I thank you for reading this blog, it's time to take up that devotion book, devotion email, Scripture reference, or conversation with another Christian pilgrim and keep the wheels of your wagon rolling! 

The devil does not want God's kingdom to come (people to believe his message about Jesus and be saved). The devil also does not want anyone to care about or hallow God's name. Those of us who use His Name rightly should be leading the way. 

Lead, people of God. Because you know what's lurking beneath.