Sunday, May 22, 2016

useless religion

"Your mouth exposes your heart,
and your religion is useless."
~James 1:26b

In 2 Samuel, there's a story about a man named Shimei. There was a rebellion, and David was leaving Israel. Shimei was cursing David as he left, calling him worthless and saying that he was getting what he deserved by being driven out. Yet when David came back (just a couple of chapters later, though I'm not sure how much time had passed), Shimei was the first to welcome him back. He was even bowing at David's feet when he crossed the Jordan, asking David to forget everything that had been said.

How often are we that way? Do our convictions change as quickly and easily as Shemei's? When it seems like our King is leaving, do we turn away from him to swear allegiance to whoever comes next, whoever seems to be in control?

The human heart is fickle. We waver between our "convictions" like we're being tossed around by the waves. We get caught up in the circumstances and worldly issues, and our commitment to God falters in light of what's happening around us.

Life hits hard sometimes. It can seem like God isn't in control; the circumstances can make it look like He's been driven out. It's in those moments that your true heart is revealed. Either your outlook depends on what's happening in the world around you, making you someone who has no true foundation. Or you're someone who knows that, no matter what happens, the King is still on the throne, and your faith is built on the Foundation that can never be shaken.

James 1:2-4 & 12 says, "Don't run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line--mature, complete, and wanting nothing. Happy is the person who can hold up under the trials of life. At the right time, he'll know God's sweet approval and will be crowned with life."

Don't let your allegiance depend on who appears to be in control. God is, always has been, and always will be the King, no matter what seems to be happening in the world. Do your best to make your heart and your words match; when hard times come (and they will--that's a promise), make every effort to ensure that your faith is what shines through, so that others can see that, although religion may be useless, faith is precious. 

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