“Do I have to pray, read the Bible, go to church, etc?”
devotional/discussion thought of the day?
10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! 12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. 15 Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. 16 But we must hold on to the progress we have already made. 17 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. Philippians 3:10-17 (NLT)
33 We should concern ourselves with this revealed will of God, follow it, and be diligent about it because the Holy Spirit gives grace, power, and ability through the Word by which he has called us. We should not explore the abyss of the hidden foreknowledge of God, even as Christ answered the question, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” by saying, “Strive to enter by the narrow door” (Luke 13:23, 24)
325 Fight against the softness that makes you lazy and careless in your spiritual life. Remember that it might well be the beginning of tepidity … and, in the words of the Scripture, God will vomit out the lukewarm.
Sometimes the question is phrased as you see above, “Do I have to pray, read the Bible, go to church, etc. ?”. Other times it is more a defensive statement, “I have a great relationship with God and therefore I don’t have to…” Or perhaps the most dangerous version, “God will understand that I have other priorities….”
As a pastor such questions and statements are the horrific omens, they are the symptoms of life that will be soon going through a kind of spiritual cardiac arrest. One that will be haunted by guilt and shame that will be easily tempted to some form of idolatry, to put faith in something else. That idol will fail eventually, that dream and desire will not satisfy, and the comfort of a lukewarm faith will cause us to fall asleep.
I don’t say this simply as a diagnostician, or simple as a pastor who is tired of observing it and picking up the pieces. I say it as one who struggles with it, as well. I who wants to pass on my morning devotions and get to “work.” I so want to bypass my examination of my life and praying that God would help me not just repeatedly come to being sorry and apologetic, but to move from contrition to the transformation that is true repentance. I want to grow in overcoming the sin that so easily ensnares me, and I want to help you do the same.
All three quotes above talk about this – from the Lutheran Confessions which tell us to stop trying to probe the hidden mysteries of God, the things scripture doesn’t mention and theologians argue and write about. We must instead focus on the love and mercy that God does reveal. What a wondrous thing it is to know how deeply God loves you and me! What an incredible thing to think of the cross, and how that love was revealed, in an act so merciful that it staggers the mind. He died for us, and we live with Him! There is our focus!
St. Josemaria echoes it in his plea that we all don’t get lazy and careless in our spiritual life, that with Paul we forget what is behind us, what is history, and try to possess, to understand, to hold onto the fact that Christ has united us to himself. To begin to understand how much we are loved, and what it means to be united to God in Christ’s death and resurrection, to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.
The answer to an apathetic faith, to a personal or parish/congregational malaise, is quite simple. We need to understand the wide, how long, how high and how deep His love is for us, experiencing the love of Christ which is too great to completely understand with our hearts and souls and mind. Even so, as we begin to explore that love, we come alive, and the power of God is revealed in us.
So you and I, yes we need to pray, and to spend time contemplating what scripture reveals, we need to gather together to hear of this love, to receive the sacraments which are tangible gifts showing that love.
Not because it is law, not because if we don’t, we shall be punished, but because these things are what nourishes our spiritual life, and what makes us aware that God is with us!
Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 838-839). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Posted on October 22, 2016, in Augsburg and Trent, Book of Concord, Devotions, Poiema, The Way and tagged Church, Eucharist, love of God., needs, piety, prayer, spiritual life. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.