The man in the pew in front of me, and slightly to the left, opened his Bible when the pastor announced the Scripture he would be using as the basis of his message. I knew him to be a sweetheart of an older man, always with a kind word for everyone–or a teasing joke. He also was the chairman of the deacons. As he looked for the passage in the Old Testament, he eventually turned back to the index, found the page, turned to it, and then turned his attention to the sermon.
Have you ever had to go to the index, especially if the pastor tells you to turn to, perhaps, one of the “Minor” prophets? When my husband and I walked out of the service and headed home, we both felt the weight of discouragement that had come to us as we watched someone who was a “pillar” in that church show his unfamiliarity with his Bible. We did not judge his salvation, but his testimony to us, although unseen by others, definitely was tarnished that Sunday!
It’s a common quote in the church to hear someone tell you that “You may be the only Bible some people read!” Have you ever realized that old sayings become old sayings because there is so much truth in them? Mr. Phillips may not have realized anyone sitting near him would notice his insecurity in finding Habakkuk, but to not know your Bible possibly leaves open the question, “How well do you know your God?”
There are few who are in love who would destroy a letter that has come from their soul mate. Perhaps we don’t destroy the Bible, but if we leave it on the shelf or in the car, and pick it up on Sunday, we are losing the relationship that our God wants with us. Read Isaiah 1, and you’ll read a modern-day exegesis on America! (As well as the world!) God tells Israel (please excuse the loose paraphrase), “Your sacrifice (going to church on Sunday in order to ‘satisfy’ your debt to me) sickens me! You act so holy and righteous outwardly when at heart you are nothing but sinful people who would rather fit in with the world than know me!” As you read Isaiah 1, you will see God has nailed on the head the cities in America in this new millennium! If I stand near the door of my church and watch people flow in, I see the world coming in the door–where are the parents who check out their children before leaving home? Are slips no longer part of attire? How far down can a tee shirt go before it hits the navel? Skirts, pants, tops that look as though they are painted on! We have lost our shame.
But there is hope! God tells Israel–as He tells America–beginning in verse 16, to put away the things that divide the relationship with Him! Repent of the sins and let Him cleanse you! There is so much hope for the backslider or the person who once loved God with all their heart, but who now plays with the Smartphone during the service! Anything that you love more than you love God needs to be tossed aside, until He fills you with joy in the morning, hope throughout the day, and blessed rest at night!
Remember as you go about your day, that truly your actions will be watched by someone who wants to know if you are real, or if you are just like them: they can justify their lives if they see you, who calls yourself a Christian, doing the things they do. Set yourself apart, and stand alone. Show the love of Christ to them, don’t use the words they use, nor flirt with the world, but keep yourself holy–for HE is holy!