Some mornings I read God’s Word and come away from my time spent with the Father feeling encouraged. There are other mornings when God’s comfort and refreshment gushes from His Word and engulfs me like a cool spray on a hot summer’s day. This morning, as soon as I read James 1:22, I was convicted, stopped dead in my tracks, and forced to take a long hard look at my daily life.
I say I am a follower of Jesus. I say I love the Lord. I go to Bible study. I attend worship. I “do” a lot of things that give the appearance of what society could call a Christian, but do I “do” what the Word of God says? Do I obey Jesus’ call on my life?
The things that I’ve listed that I “do” fit more comfortably in the category of the rituals of religion. Jesus is calling me into an intimate relationship that will lead to my doing what He did.
Jesus didn’t excel in the rituals–He was constantly being harassed by the Pharisees for “working” on the Sabbath, for spending time with undesirables, and for forgiving those the Pharisees had determined were outside of the gracious grasp of God. Jesus didn’t do “ritualistic religion,” but He excelled in doing God’s will. Jesus said, “…I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” (John 14:31 NIV) This is all that God has called me to–just do what He asks of me.
It is so easy to substitute the rituals of religion for a real-time relationship that leads me to be available to do God’s will any moment of every day. I don’t have to “listen” to God’s voice coming through His Word to “perform” the rituals of religion, but to walk in obedience requires me to put aside distractions so that I might “hear” God speaking to me through His Word. Walking in obedience to His call on my life requires me to live with my mind fixed on the Lord, looking for the opportunities He brings my way, throughout the day. I want to live fully alive to God’s will each and every day.
My prayer today, Lord, is that I will forsake the rituals of religion so that I might yield my life, every moment of every day to doing Your will.