Have you ever thought church might be making you too busy for God? What the heck do those lovecarrots have to do with that?
Hang with me for a second — I’ve been thinking about this. I was reading in the first chapter of Isaiah, where Isaiah begins to express Godâ€™s displeasure with Israel. He compares them with Sodom and Gomorrah, which probably pretty quickly got their attention. The funny thing is, God wasnâ€™t displeased with Israel for a lack of religious activity. They were sacrifice-offering, incense-burning, homage-paying, assembly-holding kind-a-people. If their â€œreligious activityâ€ was flourishing, why was God displeased?
The thing is, God wasnâ€™t looking for people to put on a show for Him. His desire was for them to put away evil — to do the good His law and His ways pointed them toward. Godâ€™s desire was for the people of Israel to seek justice. To give an earful to oppressors, to stick up for the fatherless and stand up for widows. He wasnâ€™t asking for their lives to be a flurry of â€œreligious activity.â€ His desire was to see goodness in their hearts and in their actions.
The thing Iâ€™ve been pondering is that the â€œtrue religionâ€ the Bible speaks about seems to have little to do with covered dish luncheons and Sunday school. It never seems to be closely associated with a faithful attendance at church every week. Iâ€™m not saying those things are wrong, but I am saying that if theyâ€™re the checklist that convinces us weâ€™re â€œreligious,â€ something big is missing.
James says â€œPure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.â€ Basically, God is looking for people with integrity and decency who love Him and care about the things that He cares about. Things like justice and kindness and mercy.
If we follow in Jesusâ€™ footsteps, this will begin to be a natural part of who we are and what weâ€™re about. As we abide in Godâ€™s love, our love for Him and our love for others will grow and build on each other. Theyâ€™ll be interwoven and complementary.
It’s kind of like these fascinating carrots I had to ask HH to take a picture of before I cooked…loving God and loving others are interconnected things, they go hand in hand. (And when I took apart the lovecarrots to peel them, they just plain looked funky. How’s that for food for thought? I could probably do a whole other post on that thought!)
I get excited when I think about what it could look like if we were a little more busy with the heart of God. Maybe caring for the elderly who have no one left to care for them. Perhaps adopting orphans (either literally or through ministries that are able to take care of them). Fighting the good fight to see the end of human trafficking, slavery and poverty. Loving the people around us in a way that helps them see the love of God. Looking for injustice and fighting for justice in the world. Oh, how I long to have more of this in my life!
In a brief survey — do you ever feel like youâ€™re too busy with church stuff to be out doing the stuff? Or perhaps your love for God and your love for others do look like my sweet lovecarrots? If so, please share with the rest of us how you got there!
The Sermon in a Nutshell: This is my prayer — God, give us Your heart, and help us to be Your hands love carrots to the world!