I haven’t had time to write for way too long. Each week I look for time and end up with other more important tasks. But today I am feeling “under-the-weather” and cancelled Polish class. Cancelling class meant getting a lot of other stuff done, including time to write.
So, what to write? I am not feeling the football lessons at the moment. What is really on my heart is deeper spiritually. The following is what is on my heart.
What does it really mean to have a relationship with God? I find myself asking this question in various forms often lately. It comes to mind most often as I deal with people who call themselves Christians. These are “good” people who don’t have blaring contradictions in their life. I am meaning the contradictions of people who look, sound, and act like perfect believers on Sunday morning and don’t the rest of the week.
The question comes from a decade of or more of wondering why it seems there are so few ecstatic and “on-fire” followers of Jesus. (Matthew 7:21-23 is a huge insight and maybe where this blog post should end, but I will continue and risk putting my foot in my mouth or worse.) I am not meaning those who flame out quickly, I mean people who burn more brightly (Matthew 5:14-16) each year as they serve the Lord. By about this time the people I most talk to about this start giving qualifiers. Qualifiers such as: but you can’t judge their hearts, not everyone is a “preacher”, I am so busy, not everyone is a missionary ready to sell all and move to the jungle, etc. It seems to me the “qualifiers” are sometimes excuses.
It is true that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Not all faithful believers in Jesus look or act the same. As a mater of fact, they are all different. But I believe more often than not there is an obvious difference between a true believer and a ______. (I really don’t know what should be written there. One sized does not fit them all.) But a qualifier I do believe is legitimate is we are all at different stages or levels.
So young believers tend to have similar traits with each other, but are rarely as mature spiritually as those who walk with the Lord for say 50 years. But I still haven’t really touched the original question.
The first thing I try to keep in mind is I don’t know! Only God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit know the true spiritual state of anyone. Matthew 7:1, Romans 2:1, and 1 Corinthians 4:5. These verse all help us see that we can’t judge another person’s heart.
But there are many more subtle ways to recognize a person’s probabl spiritual condition – the “fruit inspection”. Probably the best way to start this is to recognize a person’s spiritual power source. John 15 came to mind and the whole chapter is full of indicators of a person who is attached to the true vine. Galatians 5 is also a great “gauge” to measure fruit. Maybe one of the bigger challenges with Galatians 5 is the modern day, so called, interpretation of the meaning. The standard for the fruit of the spirit (5:22-23) seems to have moved way down for many church attenders.
And this is where I will almost end. (Yea, I have left more loose ends than maybe answers and yet it is still just about time quite.) I wonder if the overall standard of faith has come down so far it is hard to tell the believers from the world? This is nothing new as Dietrich Bonhoeffer taught long ago about – cheap grace. Part of this, I believe, is people are looking around the church at each other to determine the spiritual standard. Jesus is THE spiritual standard and we are to be conformed only to Him (Romans 8:27-29).
I will end with this thought. If I don’t want to grow more spiritually (I want to say nearly every day), am not free to share my sins and struggles with other believers to pray with me and keep me accountable (James 5:13-18), and I don’t feel compelled to tell others about my Lord and Savior through word and deed… Something is wrong, something is very wrong!