Religious Crust and the Walking Dead

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” Luke 24:5

I remember the day I fake gave my life to Christ. I was at a church camp and the speaker was really loud and seemed to specialize in how awful hell was. I was a fornicator. I was a rotten sinner. And he gave a slick altar call to close the deal. Then I was herded up to the altar with other scared twelve year olds where I parroted a sinner’s prayer.

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But, it wasn’t from my heart. And, a close look at my teenage years would prove that whatever happened didn’t stick. Simply put, fear doesn’t help people see God clearly. Fear doesn’t lead to changed lives. It does a great job making people religious. And powerless–ending with a faith that eventually dies.

As the angels pointed out the first Easter, you can’t find anything alive–anything powerful or life changing among the dead. That goes for faith, too.

Does your faith need a little resurrection? Maybe it’s because your starting point was not authentic. I had to get past my initial reaching out to God because I was afraid. Other people say yes to make parents happy, or because religious traditions required a special class. Whatever it is, it’s not too late to cry out to God with whatever you have.

God wants to be in relationship with the real you.

Before the empty tomb, Jesus made a tremendous sacrifice on our behalf. We grow our faith by following His lead. Bringing dead faith to life again will almost always involve sacrifice. Ask any Christian who is out moving mountains and not letting dust collect on their heart—God will ask you to chip off the religious crust and hand over the stuff in your life, too.

Recently, my friend was challenged by her pastor to do something radical. Instead of giving up social media or red meat or chocolate for Lent, she was to try praying for three of her enemies– people she could name who had persecuted her in one way or another. Pray for them. Pray for God to bless them. And so she did. For her ex husband. And the other woman.

And as she prayed, she plunged into the pain of why the relationship ended, and dealt with all the seemingly unanswered prayers for healing. It was not a sweet, easy Lent for my friend. However, she ended up with a stronger faith. And a closer intimacy with the One Who will never forsake or abandon her. I stand amazed.

This type of breakthrough doesn’t come from a faith that sits on the couch of life and spectates, growing comfy.

Comfy faith is not really faith at all. It eventually shrivels up and dies. If you think God wants you to have dead, predictable faith, go read about Moses, Rahab, Mary, Luke, Daniel, and Deborah. Go ask the hospice nurse, the college students who reach out to victims of human trafficking, the missionary to refugees, the teacher who takes a deep breath and prays, the people who have shut out the noise of this world and have chosen to live sacrificially.

Their faith is alive. And they know God in ways that comfy Christians do not.

The glory of God is the empty tomb, the resurrection power. Don’t follow God to escape punishment. Follow Him because you are convinced that He can set you free, change your life, and help create “on earth as it is in heaven”. When you are convinced of that, others will be, too.

 

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Dedy McReynolds says:

    Dearest Julie, Thank you for your Spirit filled messages on your blog. So good to read and remember how much I miss hearing your sweet and simple life lessons. Love and prayers, Dedy McReynolds.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I miss you, too and your steadying presence. Thank you for reading the posts. I am grateful to be able to use my writing in a more focused way…

      Like

  2. ilardocalligraphy says:

    Amen!

    Like

  3. Great post. Yes. We all have our crosses to bear. God never said following Him was going to be an easy path, but it’s the right path to Life, eternally.

    Incidentally, several years ago, my husband and I went to a retreat at a sister church, and the priest monk talked about forgiveness. He told us to try writing down all the people’s names from present to all the way back as far as we can remember through childhood on a sheet of paper that have wronged you or that you have had fights with and/or just don’t like, Do a prayer such as “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on ____ and say all of the names. Then fold up the paper and set it behind the icon of Christ on your prayer shelf/corner (we Orthodox have these). It’s amazing how much healing and forgiveness happens when you do this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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