As I’ve been writing this week, there is a phrase that keeps exploding into my mind. It’s a phrase that has nothing, wait, I’m sorry, NOTHING, to do with my current writing project, but I can’t escape it.
I know, ridiculous, right?
Right? That’s what I’ve been saying to myself ever since I heard KellyAnne Conway say it at the end of last month. Then God challenged my condemnation of that sentence by revealing some hidden ugliness in my own heart.
Usually, I find that the fault that I can see most clearly in someone else is the very thing that I am least likely to see in myself. Or, as the eternal Word of God puts it, “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” Romans 2:1
How I wish that there was some giant parenthesis that said something like, “because you, the judge (except you Benjamen, you’re actually pretty close to perfect) practice the very same things….” But, sadly no matter how much I read my Bible like the parenthesis are actually there, or to be more accurate, no matter how much I live my life like I’m magically excluded from that truth, that verse still stands against the hypocrisy of my heart and looks me dead in the eyes.
“So, what are you saying? Are you saying that your life is full of ‘alternative facts’ and that you’re a lying McLiar pants?”
If I look closely at my heart… yes. I am a liar and a rather big one at that.
Take for example worship songs. My beautiful wife and I went to a church building a week ago and I was struck by the fact that I could so easily sing lies, and not just lies that God might hear, lies that were actually directed at God.
Take Hillsong’s Christ is Enough, for example, the first few lines go like this: “Christ is my reward, and all of my devotion, now there’s nothing in this world that could ever satisfy….”
Yikes. Really? Can I really sing those words with complete conviction from the depths of my soul? If Christ was all that my wife and I had, if he chose, as he did in the lives of many of his servants throughout history, to glorify himself by stripping us of every earthly blessing save his Spirit and the sweetness that comes from being close to him, would Christ truly be enough? If my wife and I needed to depend on him for our basic daily needs, if we were like Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:11 and we were hungry, thirsty, and destitute, could we still stand in the midst of the assembly and cry out with conviction: “Jesus, you’re my reward, nothing in this world satisfies me like you do!”?
Or, do I continually structure my life in ways that insulate me from the outside chance of needing to depend on God or walk closely with him? Do I try to fit God into my day, or do I structure my day around God and his will for my life?
Provide for me?
“No thanks, God, I’ve got a really good job.”
Heal me emotionally?
“Nah, I just got a book about how to overcome my childhood, don’t worry though, it’s got a few verses from Proverbs in it.”
“I’m good. I’ve got my favorite movie, a fresh pizza, and my cozy bed, I’ll be alright.”
“Sure, if you want to change me in ways that I want to be changed in.”
But you’re a Christian, right?
“Absolutely! I love going to church and I really want to go to heaven!”
Yeah, but isn’t that an “alternative fact” that your content to live with day after day?
“What!? Which fact?”
How about the thought that wanting to go to heaven and consistently attending a church building makes you a Christian? If you read your Bible cover to cover, you wouldn’t find that definition of being a Christian anywhere… and I do mean, anywhere.
Isn’t our hyped up singing about only needing Christ, a fact that flies in the face of all of the other moments in our week when we go out of our way to not depend on him? Won’t most of us be just like KellyAnne on the day of judgment?
Do we dare presume that we could stand before the God of ages, with his eyes burning with fire, and pure blinding light shining from his very face, that we could possibly say with confidence, “I knew that abandoning all of myself, turning from anything that would grieve or quench your Spirit inside of me, and surrendering my will, my life, my time, my money, and my dreams, to Christ and believing and clinging only to him would save me, but, there were alternative facts that said that all I had to do was say the sinner’s prayer and live a good life. That works too, right? I still get to go to heaven, right?”
You see, I found this in myself when I was happily attending church buildings but never submitting my whole life to Christ: I loved the church, I loved the Word of God, I loved theology, I loved talking about God, I loved hanging out with my church friends, and I loved God, but I also loved a whole lot of other things too.
Now, I find more and more that the things in the world are stale and bland. You can keep your movies, gossip, nice cars, Vitamixes, and trendy clothes, just give me Jesus. The more I look into the perfect face of my savior, the more all of the world just goes silent and my mission becomes more and more clear. I’m not perfect at this, and I get my head turned around a lot, but my heart burns for Christ and not those things.
The closer I get to my King, the less I care about defending things that really don’t matter. I’m not here to defend facts. Christians were never put on this earth to defend facts. We are grace partakers and a people defined by living out truth. We need to remember that.
“Know the truth and the truth will set you free,” right?
No, and a hundred more times, NO!
We can’t keep cutting that verse in half. “So Jesus said to the Jews that had believed in him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” John 8:31&32
So, let’s abide. Let’s commit to praying more than we Tweet, loving more than we repost, and reading the words of God more than we check our social media feeds. Either our hope and joy are rooted and grounded in King Jesus, 100%, every day, all day, or they aren’t. King Jesus. All hail King Jesus!
Until next time, let’s lose our lives!