Small group last night was intense, to say the least, but not in the usual way. What started out as a discussion of what makes a man’s religion pure and undefiled or worthless turned into a heated debate of what it means to enjoy and abuse our freedom in Christ. It seemed very much to me like everyone had their own agendas and interpretations on the subject, so little was resolved in the end. Usually, that’s okay with me. I happen to like to sit in a group of theologians and join them in wrestling with some text, doctrine, or aspect of Western Christianity. But last night, a heated ethical debate wasn’t what I needed.
“To keep oneself unstained from the world.”
I hear that and instantly recognize it as an indictment against me. More than that, I remember discussing with Jaime earlier this week my needs “to do something I want to do”, like seeing Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland on opening night. And my need to do “something light and fun”, like game night or downtime with my small group. And then there’s my need to “read something that I don’t have to put much thought into”, like the Inheritance Cycle books, “because if I don’t, my brain will simply not shut off at night”.
Let me speak plainly, I don’t believe any of these things are sinful. But I am concerned about the condition of my heart and changes I see in myself that I’m not convinced are for the better. When did I stop getting excited about reading theologically rich books? When did I get so mentally and physically lazy? When did I get so socially needy? (Especially living in a house with nine people I love so dearly.) When did my time with the Lord become so dry that it’s a burden? When did I stop hearing His voice speaking to me through the Scriptures every morning? When did hearing a sermon and being convicted become the exception and not the rule? I remember when I asked for the help of the Holy Spirit in purging my music, movie, and book collection of anything that wasn’t edifying. I didn’t want anything to be a part of my life that would embarrass me if my Pastor found it. When did I get away from that?
All these questions I asked the Lord in prayer this morning, but the most convicting one was this: when did Jesus Christ stop being my refuge? I was no less burdened by my responsibilities back then, when did I start needing books and movies to hide away in for a little while? Is that what they’re intended for? I can’t believe that’s true. There must be an intended purpose for them, but I’m certain it isn’t to supplant Christ’s role as my hiding place. He calls me to take refuge in the shadow of His wings. Can I honestly say with integrity, knowing these things, that I’d rather read something mindless before bedtime than His word? Could that be part of the reason for the state of my spiritual life right now?
I can give a passionate argument in a heated debate, but the truth is, most of the time, I just want someone I respect to tell me what to do. So I’m pleading here. Say something.
Music: Desperation Band – “Rescue”