Sunday, March 16, 2014

All In

We spend a lot of time focused on our thoughts, our intentions, our prayers. All of this internal stuff. And of course that is good. Jesus Himself directed us away from the purely outward understanding of spirituality, religion, and sin that dominated the thinking for some much of human history...including those in Jesus' day. He challenged us to expand our understanding of what it means to love God...and our fellow human beings with statements like, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultury'; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew5:26-28)." The point is that maybe it is easy to not actually commit adultury or actually kill someone, but that if we entertain the idea in our heart...and in our mind...then we are still guilty. We saw that with the hypocracy of the Pharisees. So I get that.

BUT, I wonder if the pendulum hasn't swung too far the other way. I appreciate the Truth that Jesus gave as He chastised the Pharisees for being outwardly spiritual, but not inwardly. He talked about how they focused on the outward appearance and not on the motives and desires in their heart.
"Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated ? 18 "But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. Matthew 15:17-19.
So I get it. The heart and sould does reveal the person. It is the core of who we are. But while He directed us to pay attention to what is going on inside...He didn't say it is the only thing we should pay attention to.

So here is my thing. As I am moving through Lent, I am finding myself wanting to live more fully for I'm sure many of us are. I truly want my life to be more about Him than it is about me. I want to literally live out the idea that "I am third." And this isn't new. This has been a desire for a long time. And so I have to be honest with myself and recognize that I am obviously not moving in that direction...or at least not as fast as I would like to be...or should be. I mean yes, I pray a least if you count all the conversations in my head where I talk to God. And on one hand some (and for a while I) would consider that a positive. Certainly that is me pursuing God in my life. But I still feel unsettled. I feel like there is more...much more for me that I am missing out on. And so as I prayed this morning I feel like God directed me to take a look at what is on the outside. What outside of the outer parts of my life...the physical parts...reflect that desire? Is my physical self pursuing God as much as my inward spiritual self? What around my physical life...testifies to my desire for Him?

So I took stock. There is going to Church. And most of the books I read are spiritual in nature...saints and religious authors. And I talk to my daughter about God and Jesus as things pop up. But that seems sort of rudimentary to me. As good as it may doesn't feel like enough to match the desire that is inside. Do I read at least some scripture every day? No. Do I specifically, intentionally, consciously do any acts for God each day? No. Do I have a regular commitment to do something for my church...say monthly or weekly? No. And on it went. So in the end, when I looked at the bulk of my daily activities...I realized that so few are deliberately infused with God. And then I realized the consequence. I have unintentionally set my spiritual life against my physical life. They are not in unison...not both being fed...not both being aimed at the same thing. And so I have had to conclude that for all the inner stuff I may life...the physical, worldly part of my life is a bit empty when it comes to God. Put another way, I realized that it would be hard for someone outside and objective to look at my life and see this deep desire and pursuit of God. And so I've realized, I think some things have to change.

I am out of balance. I have spent too much time on the inward and/or not enough time on the outward. I need to make sure that I am putting my money where my mouth is, as they say. Or at least where my heart is. I need to serve God not just with my desire...with my heart and mind...but with my outward self as well.

How much am I doing to help the Church? How much am I doing to share God's love with others? How much am I doing to draw closer to Him so that I can do more for him in this world? I have had to make myself realize that simply wanting to do it isn't enough. Talking about it with others, isn't enough. I need to actualy do do do several things. I need my body...and my physical world to support and encourage and reflect what is going on in my inner world. I need my outside to be consistent with my inside. I need my desire for God to permeate all of me...all that I am...inside and out. And please be clear (I say both to myself and those reading) that this isn't about doing things...physical, outward that others can see my faith...or so that I can prove or convince people how religious I am or how close to God I am (or am not). Jeuss clearly condemned that (Matthew 23:13-36. No...this is about getting my whole being in sync. It is about me living my faith spiritually AND physically. It's about my whole life being aimed at knowing and sharing Christ's love. It's about me finally deciding to go all in.

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