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Sunday, January 15, 2017

More than religious practice

Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed. Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people. (Amos 5:14-15 NLT)
Love good and hate evil - two seemingly "easy" things, right? Yet, do you realize what conflict these two commands actually bring into our lives? The desire to do good is there, but the actual ability to "do" good is based upon more than a desire to do it. We must act upon desire - which means we act even when the desire is kind of masked by our other feelings of desiring to actually make someone else hurt as much as we might be hurting right now. Running from evil is easy when we recognize it - but we all know there are times when we don't realize a particular course of action as "evil" in nature. It is possible for people to "cover over" their evil intent and desire simply by doing some good stuff now and again, isn't it? We must become proficient "readers" of character - this is the only way we can keep ourselves from running toward evil and turning from what is good to what may actually be quite destructive in the end, isn't it?  We aren't fooling God - only others - whenever when we try to mask over some intent which isn't quite as it should be.
We can become quite complacent - almost as though we just expect God to bless our lives - simply because we call ourselves Christian. We have seen this in our own nations, friends. Many report they are "Christian" on census forms each time it is administered, yet they live as they want, not really following after the principles Christ modeled. It is a truly foolish thing to think we can drift into a place of complacency or compromise and still expect God to bless us again and again. At some point, he will allow the things we have been turned toward to have their way with us. We rarely see the decline in our subtle compromises until God allows us to do as we so evidently please. Then, all "hell" breaks loose in our lives and we find ourselves crying out to God for mercy and grace.
It isn't religious practice that makes us righteous - in right-standing with God. It is relationship sought after with passionate pursuit that brings us into a place of solid footing and grounded in goodness. We may think it is find to "dabble" in the things declared by God to be evil or "off-limits" for a believer. Yet, when we do, we find ourselves moving toward a deep pit, not the elevated places of grace and goodness. God doesn't just want justice for our lives, he wants us to pursue it with all our heart. Justice isn't something for the weak of heart because it means we often have to take a stand against evil and injustice - first in our own lives, then in the lives of those we walk this earth alongside. When we stop to consider what "justice" demanded as a payment for the penalty of our sin, the cost was astronomical because it was the life of Jesus. The cost we pay for justice in our own lives is obedience. Obedience is what helps us flee from evil and move consistently toward what is just and right in this world. We may not immediately recognize evil, but the more we are turned toward what is good and right, the less likely we will be to embrace what will bring us harm. Just sayin!