Worship That Wearies God

Worship That Wearies God

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

If we are honest, some days it is easier to worship with focus and enthusiasm than others. We’re human and we struggle. With mental preparation and prayer, we can minimize the frequency of such times, but they happen to the best of us.

Have you ever thought about God getting tired of the worship brought by His people? I don’t mean worship done incorrectly and according to the will of men which violates what He commands. Apparently, He rejects such worship (Mat. 15:9). I don’t mean the idea that He gets bored and had rather skip a Sunday here and there. No such picture is ever painted of God.

But through the prophets, He repeatedly talks about being weary of the worship brought by His people. 

“I have had enough…I take no pleasure in…your worthless offerings…an abomination to me…I cannot endure…They have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them” (Isaiah 1:11-14).

“I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies…Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps” (Amos 5:21,23).

“Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord of hosts, “nor will I accept an offering from you” (Malachi 1:10). 

Each prophet is dealing with specific circumstances prompting such a response from God, but it should cause us to take notice that just coming into the “meeting house” and going through the motions does not equal acceptable worship. Neither does simply following the New Testament pattern for the acts of worship. You will find in each of the passages above that the people were at the right place offering the right sacrifices on the right day led by the right people. The problem was either one of attitude, hypocrisy, or outright worldly living. Jeremiah documents how the people lived just like the world for the rest of the week, then filed into the temple to sing, “Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!” (7:4-10). 

Worship is a special privilege, to come into the presence of our Maker and Savior. At our best, we worship Him with sin and weakness in our lives. He knows that and the cross proves that He knows it. He is not expected sinless perfection, but He is looking for characteristics in our worship just beyond doctrinal accuracy.  He wants:

  • Feeling (Psalm 95:6; John 4:24).
  • Engagement (Matthew 15:8).
  • Effort (Hebrews 13:15).
  • Gratitude (Ephesians 5:20; Colossians 3:16-17).
  • Thoughtfulness and Intentionality (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).
  • Devotion (Acts 2:42).
  • Consideration of one another (Hebrews 10:24). 

It is such a blessing that God communicates with us not only about the “what,” “when,” and “who” of worship, but also the “how” and “why” of it. When we are assembled for worship, He tells us what worship should look like. Between the assemblies, He tells us what a life looks like that partners with that worship.

God speaks of the various sacrifices of His children being a “fragrant aroma” to Him (Philippians 4:20; ). He likens the prayers of His faithful people to incense (Revelation 5:8; 8:1ff).  Jesus assures us that true worshippers offering true worship are highly sought after by God (John 4:23). That’s the aim, isn’t it? The idea of presenting God with both a worshipper and worship which enthuses Him is the pinnacle of excitement! 

Next Sunday, before we come together in worship, we can read Psalm 95, Psalm 96, Isaiah 6, or a similar chapter which reminds us of Who we get to worship. Today and every day, let us strive to build on the most recent worship we have offered by a life of faithful service and sincere devotion. That will set the table for worship God can’t wait to receive! 

Why Jesus Offended The Pharisees

Why Jesus Offended The Pharisees

Neal Pollard

Jesus wasn’t going around just trying to make enemies of anyone, but He was fearlessly living and telling the truth no matter the circumstances. What we read in Luke 11:37-54 is how the scribes, Pharisees, and experts on the Law were living by the gospel according to self. They looked really righteous and knowledgeable on the surface, but of course Jesus can see below the surface at what’s actually going on in the heart and mind. It seems that there are several reasons why Jesus offended these religious leaders on this occasion.

He Exposed “Surface Spirituality” (37-41). They were so obsessed with appearances, doing things to look good to others. Yet, Jesus said they were full of corruption and wickedness in their hearts. They knew how to look spiritual without being godly, a deadly condition! 

He Exposed “Majoring In The Minors” And “Minoring In The Majors” (42). He doesn’t rebuke the attention to details, but says they neglected what really mattered when making gestures that appeared to show how scrupulous and careful their religion was. True religion is supposed to stand on huge pillars like divine justice and love. Operate from those qualities and you are well on your way to true righteousness. 

He Exposed “Appearance-Driven Actions” (43-45). Jesus called them on their love of the chief seats and respectful greetings. Surely most people appreciate being appreciated, but such can never be what drives or motivates us to do praiseworthy things. 

He Exposed “Hypocritical Holiness” (46). They were good at making rules others needed to follow while not bothering to live by those same rules. Beware holding others to a standard you do not submit to yourself. Here, these appear to be their own convictions which they bind on others rather than God’s laws. 

He Exposed “Artificial Admiration” (47-51). They seemed to conclude that revering long-dead prophets was the spiritually acceptable thing to do, but they rejected and hated the greatest man in history–God in the flesh. While decorating the tombs of men their ancestors had slaughtered throughout the Old Testament, from Abel (Gen. 4) to Zechariah (2 Chron. 24:20-21)–like saying A to Z, they were actively fighting One even greater and ready to do the same to His disciples. 

He Exposed “Wicked Watchdogs” (52). Jesus’ last accusation is as piercing as they come. He says they took away the key to knowledge. They refused to enter the kingdom, but they actively hindered others who were trying to enter. They made themselves the gatekeepers to God, a presumptuous but also misguided effort. 

And did they humbly repent and change their ways when the Son of God called them out? No. Their pride overrode any other impulse, and they grew more hostile, plotting how they might trap Him in something He might say. They became more critical and vicious. They had hardened their hearts that much. The takeaway for me is abundantly clear. What do I do with Jesus’ will? Do I take to heart His admonitions and challenges, or do I allow sinful pride to eclipse my view of it? Do I dig my trenches deeper or do I allow His will to shape and influence me? I pray that I will choose the latter!

The Real Thing

The Real Thing

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

“Let love be genuine.” This phrase from Romans 12.9 is familiar and deceptively simple. It sounds good and feels good! But what does it mean? 

It means we can’t pretend to love people. Ανυποκριτος means “not pretending” or “acting” something. In other words, don’t pretend to love people with the goal of getting something out of it. Don’t pretend to love people when we don’t. 

We don’t usually show our real selves to other people. Aside from our close friends and family, we show other people who we want them to see. There’s nothing wrong with this; all cultures adopt levels of social scripting and behaviors based on how close we are with another person. The church is a family, and it’s hard to remember that sometimes. We’d rather keep people at arm’s length (I’m guilty of this) than get into the messiness of close relationships. 

Once we get past the formal, arm’s length level of closeness, things get complicated and messy. But they’re also rewarding and uplifting! Whatever we see in our Christian family, God expects us to love like we mean it. There’s no room for fake in this family! Since our lifestyle can be challenging, we need to know that we can rely on each other.

God showed us genuine love by proving it. He proves it every day by keeping us “good to go” if we’re walking in light (I Jn 1). Showing real love has personal benefits, sure, but it mainly benefits others. We may never know how much showing genuine love impacts another person, but it could be the pivotal point of their relationship with God! How cool is it that, just by being genuine, we potentially change people’s eternity?! 

Hypocrisy Illustrated

Hypocrisy Illustrated

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

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Carl Pollard

In Mark 11:12-14, we read a short and slightly strange account of Christ and his disciples, “On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.” Why did he curse the tree?
 
It seems to me that it would make more sense if he cursed the tree because it was in season and failed to bear fruit, but it wasn’t in season. So why curse the tree? It wasn’t supposed to have fruit. Many people say that what Jesus did was a little extreme. It appears that the only reason Jesus cursed the tree was because He was hungry and was upset that it had no fruit. At first glance His actions seem harsh and unwarranted, but Christ is illustrating a very important lesson.
 
This tree illustrated hypocrisy. Jesus cursed the fig tree because it had the appearance of being fruitful, but it was a lie. It lacked fruit. It was this lie that caused Jesus to curse the tree. It clearly states that this tree was not in season, but it still had leaves. So from far off it seemed to have the appearance of fruit, but it offered nothing but leaves. Jesus doesn’t want us to have the appearance of holiness; He wants us to bear fruit.
It’s not about looking like a Christian, but living like one.
 
Emily told me a story from when she was younger and literally had a run in with a peach tree. She was driving a golf cart at a friend’s house and ran over a young peach tree. The golf cart stripped off the bark and flattened the small tree. The owners had to spray fake bark onto the tree just to keep it alive and healthy, and to this day it’s an ugly tree. But, despite being deformed and mangled, this tree, according to Emily and all her friends, makes the best peaches out of all the peach trees on the property.
 
What’s the point? It’s not about how you look. It’s about what you produce. Jesus doesn’t care about our appearance and if we look like a Christian. The ONLY thing that matters is if we are bearing fruit.
 
This tree was an illustration of the hypocrisy that was found in the Pharisees in Matthew 23:27-28. Like the whitewashed tombs which Jesus references in these verses, the fig tree looked beautiful on the outside. It looked like it was ripe with fruit! But upon closer examination, it was a lie.
It had nothing. It made itself out to be something it wasn’t. Christ had no tolerance for hypocrisy. If we claim to be Christians and that we have a relationship with God, and yet fail to dwell on His word and spend time in prayer, we are living a life of hypocrisy. Jesus uses this tree to show us how he feels about those who claim to be one thing, when in reality it is all a lie.
 
After Jesus curses the fig tree, they immediately enter the temple and what do they see but a living example of the fig tree?  In verse 15 Jesus sees people using the temple as a place to rip off others. They had turned the temple into a den of thieves. The fig tree had the appearance of having fruit to offer, but it gave none. The temple, Jerusalem, and the Pharisees had the appearance of having holiness and offering salvation,  but had none.
 
We must use this account as motivation to practice what we preach and be who say we are to those around us.
“Virtue” Is Not A Dirty Word

“Virtue” Is Not A Dirty Word

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

sunset and sweetie

Neal Pollard

Did you know that the term “virtue signaling” is now in the dictionary. An expression that has been used a lot in the wake of the pandemic and social unrest of last year and into this year, it means to “publicly express opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue” (Apple Dictionary, 2.3.0, 2005-2020). “Virtue signaling” is typically used in a derogatory manner. It is felt to be synonymous with jumping on the bandwagon of a popular cause or moral grandstanding, and is considered by those diagnosing a “virtue signaler” as one trying to win praise or acknowledgment from the likeminded for showing support for a social or political cause or to reprimand and rebuke those who feel or behave differently (dictionary.com). The disdain for this practice often arises from the apparent motives of the signaler, wanting to seem more caring, more righteous, or better than others on a given issue. Cancel culture and “wokeism” are often the more virulent strains of this social malady.

Jesus had a low threshold of tolerance for the ancient equivalent of the virtue signaler. Especially in Matthew 23, Jesus calls it out. “They say things and do not do them…” (3-4). How often have we seen people being hypocritical or inconsistent in matters they call out others on?  “They do all their deeds to be noticed by men” (5). Only God knows a person’s heart, but is that ever at play in this matter? “They love the places of honor…” (6). Especially may this be evidenced through social media where one may revel in the admiration or recognition of others for occupying the high ground by their signaling. The silent majority may be intimidated by virtue signals, but they are not inherently improved by them.

Depending on your point of view, you may well think that “virtue signaling” is a dirty phrase, that is bespeaks hypocrisy, political correctness, or the like. But, may we never tar the word “virtue” with the same brush. In a list of characteristics better known as the “Christian Virtues” (2 Pet. 1:5-7), Peter urges adding “moral excellence” or “virtue” to our faith. The word refers to “consummate ‘excellence’ or ‘merit’ within a social context” (BDAG, 130). While the Stoics and writers like Homer reserved it for “military valor or exploits, but also of distinction for other personal qualities and associated performance that enhance the common interest” (ibid.), inspired writers coopted the term to mean “uncommon character worthy of praise” (ibid.). While the word is only found a handful of times and more often refers to God (2 Pet. 1:3 and 1 Pet. 2:9), it should describe us, too. If we are praised for demonstrating virtuous qualities, we are to double down on filling our hearts with true righteousness and virtue (Phil. 4:8). 

Virtue, as God defines it and guides us to genuinely show it, will encourage others to look at God, glorify Him, and seek to follow Him. Humble, genuine godliness, seeking no attention and wanting no praise, is a powerful persuader. In fact, it’s central to how God wins the hearts of others (cf. Mat. 5:14-16). Let’s stay out of the virtue signaling business, but let us strive for truly virtuous living! God is counting on us to reflect His moral excellence to those foundering and floundering in unrighteousness. 

Paper straws: Environmental friendliness or an attempt to drive us crazy?
CHRIST AND CANCEL CULTURE

CHRIST AND CANCEL CULTURE

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

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Neal Pollard

IF CHRIST CHAMPIONED CANCEL CULTURE…

  • The Samaritan woman stayed washed up.
  • The Prodigal Son is stuck in the pig pen.
  • Zaccheus is still up a tree.
  • Peter is still casting nets, not using His keys and feeding His sheep.
  • James and John, the sons of thunder, are all wet.
  • Saul of Tarsus kept holding coats and chasing down Christians.
  • Thomas drowned in his doubt.
  • The thief on the cross is hung out to dry.
  • John Mark might as well have stayed AWOL.
  • Hebrews 11, what with Noah (the drunk), Abraham (the liar), Moses (the murderer), Rahab (the harlot), etc., is never written.
  • At least five of the seven churches of Asia are in the dark.
  • All humanity is hopeless (Rom. 3:23).
  • He is neither faithful nor just (1 John 1:9). 
  • He never would have died on the cross (1 Tim. 2:6).

That is not to say that God “winks” at ignorance (Acts 17:30), indulges willful sin (Rom. 6:1-2; Heb. 10:26ff), or encourages walking in darkness (1 John 1:6ff). But, God is the God of the second (third, fourth, etc.) chance. He is perfectly patient (2 Pet. 3:9) and fully forgiving (Heb. 7:25). Perhaps our world is open to the Christ of the Bible now more than ever! 

“Toying With God All My Life”

“Toying With God All My Life”

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

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Neal Pollard

It was such a beautiful moment yesterday morning. A brother in Christ from our area who has been attending with us for a few months responded to the invitation. As Kevin and I took his confession, he spoke of sins in his past that fill him with regret. Though he was raised in the church, he has been away from the Lord for a long time. Among the things he expressed from his tender heart, he confessed, “Ive been toying with God all my life.” His point was simple. He felt doubt about God’s existence and concern for him, and it led him to make regrettable choices. But, recently, his study of God’s word and fellowship with God’s people led him to see how real God is and how much he needs Him in his life. 

I wonder how many of us could confess that, at times and in ways, we’ve toyed with God in some way. Perhaps we appealed to Him only when we were in trouble that we couldn’t solve ourselves. Maybe we promised Him we’d be faithful if only He’d give us something we specifically prayed for or thought we needed, and when we got it we broke our promise. It might have been a time or season when we “played church” and acted the role of Christian in the building but acted like the world when around them. 

This is not a tendency that started in our current generation. It is a human tendency. Bible writers exposed such thinking. God tells Ezekiel, “But as for you, son of man, your fellow citizens who talk about you by the walls and in the doorways of the houses, speak to one another, each to his brother, saying, ‘Come now and hear what the message is which comes forth from the Lord.’ They come to you as people come, and sit before you as My people and hear your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth, and their heart goes after their gain. Behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; for they hear your words but they do not practice them” (Ezek. 33:30-32). This is similar to what Isaiah wrote (29:13) and Matthew (15:8-9) and Mark (7:6,7) quote. It’s playing with God to speak as though we desire His Word and even listen to it but be driven by desires and a heart that practice something different (cf. Jas. 1:21-25). 

I need to have the good heart our dear brother expressed on Sunday morning. One who wants others to see and know how much He believes in God, loves Him, and intends to serve Him. May we all keep our hearts tender to God’s Word and let its power do its surgical work in removing what doesn’t belong and moving us to act on what does belong. 

A 4-H Club No Christian Should Join

A 4-H Club No Christian Should Join

Tuesday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

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Neal Pollard

Were you ever in the 4-H Club in school? It is an organization teaching skills you might not learn at home, urging you to get involved in your community, and helping you with a wide variety of life skills from public speaking to caring for animals. The acronym stands for “head, heart, hands, and health.” Their slogan was that you learn by doing.

In Matthew 23, Jesus gives His harshest barrage of condemnation in the Bible. He didn’t aim it at godless, irreligious heathens, but to religious leaders. They were faithful churchgoers who professed faith in God, but Jesus calls them on some glaring problems that made God reject them . 

THEY WERE HYPOCRITES (3-4)

They told others to observe things but they didn’t do them (3). They laid heavy burdens on others but were unwilling to life a finger to move them themselves (4). While hypocrisy can be defined as being a spiritual chameleon, acting one way with the righteous and another way with the world, is also hypocrisy. Seven times in this chapter, Jesus says, “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.” The world sees double standards and a person who says one thing and does another as a hypocrite. It doesn’t necessarily make them bitter or angry. It makes them not care. They are conditioned to expect that all Xians are hypocrites. Being hypocritical only reinforces and heightens the stereotype. But the Bible calls for us to have a sincere faith (1 Tim. 1:5). We are to possess pure and undefiled religion, which is objectively measured (Jas. 1:27). We have an opportunity to blow the stereotype by being the genuine article who reflects the attitude and speech of Christ each day with the world.

THEY WERE HOLLOW (5)

If there’s anything worse than beauty that’s only skin deep, it’s religion.  Jesus condemns those who did all their deeds to be seen of men. The world is repelled by professed Christians who don’t take time to see them as people. Often, they feel as if their only importance is as a potential convert or as a sinner to be judged. If we’re not careful, we fail to see every person as precious to God. That includes the immoral, the edgy, the rough, and the square peg. They see us doing or saying good things, but it’s hollow. We may do it be be noticed as a good, godly person, but we miss the opportunities to actually do good and be godly with those we interact with. Paul says, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Col. 4:5-6).

 THEY WERE HAUGHTY (6-12)

They wanted honor, respect, and recognition. Jesus diagnoses their problem as one of self-exaltation (12). 2. It was the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable on prayer who thanked God for his perceived superiority over other people (Lk 18:10). The world sees smug, self-righteousness as a total turn off.  Jesus later says that these folks were like whitewashed tombs, beautiful outside but full of dead men’s bones (27).  This is not the religion and life Jesus calls His followers to live. He describes greatness as service (11) and self-denial (16:24). The world will never be won to Christ by proud Pharisees. It takes humble hearts and helping hands to point people to Christ. 

THEY WERE HARSH (13-15)

Christ says, “But woe to you, scribes & Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in” (13).  This is how the world sees all Christians, as Judge, jury and executioner. They don’t see the love of God and the grace of Christ.  They see exclusive, isolated people who have written off everyone else. Jesus suggests that those they reach are those likeminded (15). Some people are drawn to harsh and hateful rhetoric, but they don’t make good converts of Jesus—if they stay that way. Jesus told His disciples that their identifying mark should be love (John 13:34-35). This world is an unloving place and so sincere love will reach people. At first, they may not believe we could be the real thing, but persistent compassion and grace will ultimate reach the honest heart.

The world doesn’t need Christians who compromise the truth. But they do need to see transformed disciples (Rom 12:1-2). We can be righteous without being self-righteous; We can be courageous without being callus. Matthew 23 shows that this is a must, if we will practice true righteousness. 

via “freebibleimages.com”

Why Is A Generation Leaving Religion?

Why Is A Generation Leaving Religion?

Neal Pollard

Pew Research Center recently revealed that “Four in ten millennials (those, according to this source, currently between 23 and 38) now say they are religiously unaffiliated”(fivethirtyeight.com). The data seems to indicate that “today’s younger generations may be leaving religion for good” (ibid.). A contemporary study put out by the American Enterprise Institute reveals at least three reasons why: (1) They didn’t have strong religious ties growing up, (2) Their spouses are more likely to be nonreligious, and (3) They feel religious institutions are not relevant for shaping the morality and religion (or nonreligion) of their children. Parental example, dating choices, and biblical literacy and faith, then, are major drivers in this discussion. 

Those polled revealed their thinking. A majority felt that religious people are less tolerant of others, less informed or even intelligent than their secular counterparts, and less necessary for shaping their family’s moral viewpoints. At least, reading this one study and the authors’ interpretation, it seems that leaving church is a deliberate lifestyle choice of people who at least sometimes are encouraged out the door by poor examples of faith. 

Notice the startling closing paragraph of the article, which states,

Of course, millennials’ religious trajectory isn’t set in stone — they may yet become more religious as they age. But it’s easier to return to something familiar later in life than to try something completely new. And if millennials don’t return to religion and instead begin raising a new generation with no religious background, the gulf between religious and secular America may grow even deeper (“Millennials Are Leaving Religion And Not Coming Back,” 12/12/19, Cox, Daniel, and Amelia Thompson-DeVeaux). 

I found it important to share those findings for these reasons:

  • It is a matter of crisis. People abandoning God’s Word and will is foreboding (Judges 2:10ff; 2 Timothy 3:1ff; 4:3-4; 2 Peter 3:3ff). It is happening, and it must matter to us. It does to God. 
  • It is a matter of correction. The home can change course if it is on the broad way. Individual Christians can improve their ethics and morality in public (Ephesians 4:25ff). Soul-conscious Christians can make the most of our opportunities to share Jesus in Christlike fashion (2 Timothy 2:24-26). We must change what we can change. 
  • It is a matter of consequence. A culture does not get where ours currently is as the result of sincere devotion to Christ and His Word. Hosea 4:6 is incredibly relevant. The law of sowing and reaping is immutable, for good and bad (Galatians 6:7-8). Whatever we exalt as guide is leading us somewhere.
  • It is a matter of courage. The only way I can see for this to change is for you and me to not just believe something or hold a conviction. The early Christians didn’t confine their faith to the holy huddles of the assemblies. They stood up for Jesus every day and every way. 

Two of my three sons are millennials and the third is only a couple of years too young to qualify. This is, largely, their generation. They and their faithful Christian peers are faced with reaching them, and they need our help. Talk to them and have honest conversation about how to raise your effectiveness together in stopping and reversing this exodus. This is not about preserving a comfortable lifestyle, which is threatened by sin (Proverbs 14:34). This is about preserving souls, which will face Jesus some day (Matthew 25:31ff). 

Walking Away

AN IRRECONCILABLE IRONY

AN IRRECONCILABLE IRONY

Neal Pollard

Some years ago an AP wire report yielded this incredible, true story.  Apparently a dirty joke was sent by a company employee to 6,000 people!  What was so unusual?  The perpetrator, intending to send a daily report to reporters and government officials, was a federal communications commission employee!  The headline read, “Joke Is On The FCC” (via Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/9/99). The FCC, charged with setting decency limits on various media outlets, was guilty of that which they are employed to prevent. Ironic!

The jokes abound.  Plumbers have the worst pipers.  Electricians have the faultiest wiring.  Doctors are the sickest people.  Preachers’ kids get in the most trouble.  They learn it from the elders’ kids.  While these are more axiomatic than true, there are guilty plumbers, electricians, doctors, preachers, elders, lawyers, politicians, and the like out there.  They get such attention because they fail at that which is supposed to epitomize and characterize them!

Christians become Christians through grace and obedient faith (Eph. 2:8-10).  But Christianity is more than a state of being.  It requires certain characteristics to be in one’s life.  A Christian is part of a spiritually “chosen race, royal priesthood, and holy nation” and is a person “for God’s own possession” (1 Pet. 2:9).  Moreover, a Christian is one redeemed from all iniquity, purified unto himself, and zealous of good works (Ti. 2:14).  A Christian is one who has put fleshly deeds to death (Col. 3:5).  A Christian takes on “the fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22-23), which means assuming a code of conduct and disposition of heart that is clear before the world’s eyes (Matt. 5:14-16).

There is an irreconcilable irony when a Christian is indistinct, indifferent, immoral, and inconsistent!  Like salt without taste, a Christian who dresses, talks, and behaves like a worldly person cannot be properly used by God (cf. Matt. 5:13).  A Christian without ethics, morality, honesty, and integrity is a walking oxymoron.  A Christain who talks one talk and walks another makes no sense and draws no following, at least none leading to Christ (cf. John 12:32; 1 Cor. 11:1).

Will the “Great Report” reveal that we, as Christians, spoke and showed the saving message or the wrong message?  What message are we sending to others?  Let it not be the irony of wearing a name we are not honoring.

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