Friday, July 6, 2012

God Requires So Much More Than Just Church Attendance

A statistic I heard the other day made me stop and think. Out of the 65% of middle aged Americans who say they are Christians only 3% actually live according to the teachings of Christ. That is alarming to me. What has happened that has caused the other 62% to think they are disciples of Jesus if they don’t actually follow Him? I began to think about how they might define their requirements for being a Christian and a familiar verse in Micah came to mind.

“He has told you O man, what is good: And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

God is clear about what He requires from His people. In the book of Micah, God confronts Israel about their relationship with Him. In verse 6:8 He gives them the right answer to the question asked in verse 6:6 “with what shall I come to the Lord and bow myself before the God on high?” In other words what does God require for me to please Him? The answer is that God wants our whole heart and will not be satisfied with anything less.

Israel had been going through the motions. They thought they were fulfilling their religious duty to God and were “ok” since they gave their sacrifices and offerings but in reality they had been missing it altogether.  God through the profit Micah reminded them that their token sacrifices were not enough and that He had made it clear to them already in the past that He required their whole hearted love and obedience. God wants His people to do justice, to love kindness, and to humbly walk with Him in unbroken fellowship. He wants them to really love Him and love others from their heart.

Later on in Israel’s history they are confronted again by Jesus on the same issue. As Jesus watched the Pharisees (religious leaders of the day) He let them know that God was not satisfied with their mere religious activity. He even compared them to white washed tombs that are pretty on the outside but filthy inside. Although they gave extravagant gifts to God in the form of expensive tithes and offerings (in public) they had neglected the more important matters of the law. Jesus was pointing out that the justice, mercy, and faithfulness which God requires were missing from their lives altogether.

It is so easy today to fall into the same trap of thinking that we are “ok” if we are giving God what we think He wants. Things like attending church, giving tithes, reading the bible, and even sharing our faith can become mere religious activity if we are not careful. Don’t misunderstand me here. These are all good things that real Christ followers should do but if they become what we are trusting in to please God then we have missed it and might be in that 62% that think they are “ok”. If our lives are devoid of real holiness, real love for others, and real faithfulness to God then we need to check up. The way we do that is by turning to the Gospel and rekindling our relationship with God there at the foot of His Cross.

Thankfully God knew we could never meet His requirements on our own. The Gospel is the good news that what God requires He also has provided in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus has opened the way for us to truly do justice, love kindness, and humbly walk with the God of the universe as our God. Jesus calls us to repent from sin, leave everything of the world behind and come follow Him as His disciple. When we accept His invitation by faith He comes into our heart and makes His home there. Our heart is renewed to really love God and love others. As we walk with Him in this new life His Spirit begins to produce the real righteousness that God requires in us from the inside out.  

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so nether can you unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4

Apart from a real, abiding, humble walk with God through faith in Jesus we cannot meet God’s requirements. We might look good on the outside but inside we will always be full of sin if we try to come to God any other way. God requires so much more than just church attendance because He loves us so much more than we realize. He wants us to have life and have it abundantly. That life is only found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s why he sent Jesus. It’s why Jesus sent His church. We go make disciples because we love God and want everyone to share the same abiding, life giving, soul satisfying, and abundantly rich relationship with God that we have through Jesus with us.

Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God. What an amazing life God is offering us in Christ. Don’t ever settle for anything less.

Thankfully in Grace
Shannon Compton
BCC Life Groups Pastor