“So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them” (Ezekiel 33:31,32).

OF ALL THE VAIN RELIGIONS IN THE WORLD, PERHAPS NONE IS SADDER TO SEE THAN THE RELIGION OF THE UNDISTURBED. Real religion involves dealing with a life-changing God who will probe the abscesses of our sin-damaged character with a view to real healing. God is not content simply to leave us as we are, and if we seek Him with any real honesty, we come within range of a power that is the most disturbing force in existence. It’s a force that will either transform us into beings whose purity is fit only for heaven, or it will drive us into a rebellion against God that can only end in hell. There is no in-between. And yet we often trifle with religion as if it were a harmless experience, more a pleasant part of our “lifestyle” than a transforming power.

Sometimes, we simply don’t see how much we need to be changed, and we react defensively to the suggestion that anything about us may be unsatisfactory. True, we may have some faults and foibles, a few counterproductive habits, and even a neurosis or two. But “repentance” seems too strong a word for the changes we need to make, and we prefer preachers who recognize how respectable the lives are that we’ve built for ourselves.

At other times, we simply view religion as an “interesting” or “entertaining” experience, something merely meant to be enjoyed or appreciated. If we have issues that might require actual change, we view science and psychology as the only tools that can help us in that area. God and religion, however, have a more limited role. Their purpose is to make us feel that “all is well” (whether we change or not), and if we thank the preacher for chastising us now and then, our appreciation is for an emotional experience that somehow made us feel better for having been chastised. And having dabbled in religion, we go our way undisturbed and unchanged.

“There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (‘man’s search for God’) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?” (C. S. Lewis).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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