Monday, April 25

Looking Behind the Curtain

Thoughts Along the Way

Being a native of Kansas, one of the unfortunate associations that people have with you is the Wizard of Oz. (Apologies to my family in Liberal, the home of Dorothy.) Even in 2005, it is not unusual to hear comments about Toto or tornadoes or Dorothy. I guess it's part of the price I pay for everyone's jealousy over my birthplace.

The Wizard of Oz is a piece of cultural lore about which virtually everyone knows. I'm sure that you're familiar with the story and the "mighty Oz" whom Dorothy and her companions seek out to help with their problems. But at the end of it all, the curtain is pulled back and the mighty wizard is revealed as an imposter. Not a mighty wizard, but just a trembling little man hiding behind a curtain and a loud voice.

That scene came to my mind today as Jason and I were reading from II Timothy. In the passage, Paul is talking about what life will be like in the "last days" - especially the attitudes among those who would consider themselves religious people. He uses three phrases that jumped out at me. And troubled me. In II Timothy 3:1-9, Paul writes about those who are:

"lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God"

What a description of our times! How often do I choose pleasure over God? The pleasure of my bed over time with God? The pleasure of watching TV over reading God's Word? The pleasure of some mindless entertainment over giving of myself or my resources to the things that are important to God? The pleasure of pleasing another person rather than God? How many different ways do I choose my pleasure, my comfort, my will, my wants over what's important to God and what honors God?

"having a form of godliness but denying its power"

Outside of attending religious meeting, is there any evidence of God in my life? Can people see something of God in how I live and act and speak? Do I talk about how God can make a difference in life and yet have no evidence of God's difference in my life? Does my life show evidence of God's power? Am I being changed? Am I demonstrating power over sin? Fear? Worry? The need to impress? Can people who interact with me tell that God has touched my life? I remember the words from Acts regarding those who were followers of Jesus:

"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13

Can people tell that I have been with Jesus?

"always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth"

A great description of a university campus - people always studying and learning, but not always looking for the truth. Many times, the pursuit of knowledge is more important than finding the truth. And so you have a campus full of smart people who know a lot of facts, but have somehow missed the point.

But you have churches (and campus ministries) like that, too. We can become great Bible scholars and never let what we learn intellectually influence how we live practically. Can you tell me one way that your worship or study of God's Word has changed your life in the last three months? If not, why not?
What if someone pulled back the curtain on your spiritual life? What would they find? Would they find a lover of God? A life of power? A practitioner of truth? Or would they find an imposter?

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