Facing the Wrong Way

27 Jun

I want to invite you today to step into my imagination. This won’t take long, I promise. Imagine we are in a meeting together somewhere. The room is full, and we are sitting near the back. Part way through the meeting we turn our chairs around and sit back down so we are facing the back of the room and the people in the few rows behind us. They give us a questioning look at first. Then they focus again on what is happening at the front of the room. For us, we continue to listen and participate in the proceedings with proper responses but with our backs to the meeting leaders.

For a moment, experience my story. Feel what it is like to do what I’ve described. If it will help you, close your eyes. Let your imagination kick in to jar your emotions. Are you at ease or do you feel awkward, nervous, fearful, or maybe plain weird?

Venue Change

Now, to add a new dynamic: the meeting isn’t a townhall meeting, a concert, or an employee meeting. It’s church. Does that change how you feel?

Matthew records Jesus saying, “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me, but in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men,'” (Matthew 15:7-9 NASV).

Do You Feel It?

It seems most churches in America are filled with people who go through the Sunday motions. They prove faithful in attendance, serving, giving, and being as good as the person next to them. But when God calls for a deeper intimacy, a greater surrender, and dying to self; they turn their backs on it. It pains me to admit the number of times I start to drift into sleep or a word in the message diverts me down a rabbit trail away from the point being made. There are even Sundays when I feel I am attending out of duty alone. Rightly I hear Jesus say, “You hypocrite. You honor me with your lips, but I want your heart.”

Switch Gears

Fasten your seatbelts. I’m slamming this train into reverse. You see, the story has another valid interpretation.

You and me turning our chairs around could be the ones who are responding to the Lord’s voice. Everyone else may be lulled into the routine, satisfied they are pleasing God with their participation. When God says he wants to do a new thing, they respond with determination to hold fast to what is comfortable. In so doing, their focus remains on the program and on the persons up front instead of what God is wanting to do in their own hearts.

Works Either Way

It doesn’t matter which way you look at my story. The message is the same: God wants intimacy with you. I’m currently reading a book by Kim Cash Tate called Cling: Choosing a Lifestyle of Intimacy with God. In the introduction she points out the word translated as cling in Deuteronomy 10:20 “You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name,” is the same word translated as cleave in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (KJV).

It All Comes to This

This leaves little doubt. God wants a deep personal relationship with us. David must have realized this when he wrote in Psalm 51:16-17 “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” Love Jesus anew today (every day) and begin to love the people he loves.

2 Responses to “Facing the Wrong Way”

  1. Heather Roberts at 3:21 pm #

    Yes, Jesus more of You!


  2. John Turney at 11:52 am #

    Being lulled into the comfortable is always easier than “shema” (pronounced schmall). It means to hear and obey.


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