Thursday, October 29, 2015

Morally Pure - Spiritually Empty

Luke 11:24-26 (NIV) “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”

Three little verses slapped into the middle of Luke, between many other more profound statements, so why am I writing a post on it? Why is this section of Scripture important in today's world? Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, but our churches are full of Pharisees today, and we've been blinded to our own moralistic tendencies for far too long.

I find myself constantly editing even in the children's Bible that I read as part of our school curriculum. I like the pictures, but it has added "questions for understanding". Things like "David was a good man, so God helped him". Well, no, actually David was a pretty fantastic sinner, but he had a passionate heart that was turned towards God. God doesn't want our behavior to dictate our salvation, or lack thereof, He wants our whole heart, no matter what.

We need to remember to teach our kids, and remind ourselves, that it's not "doing the right thing" that shows that we are close to God. Yes, our sins do separate us from Him, but that doesn't mean the focus should only be on not sinning. By teaching our kids, "be good and God will..." we are essentially operating on the same foundation as Santa (he's making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty or nice). It's nothing more than a cheap trick to try to "fix" our children's behavior and get them to do what we want them to. And it's teaching them faulty theology.

I also find myself adding in explanations of the temple, how we no longer have to sacrifice to enter God's presence, but He can dwell in our hearts. Not because of anything that we have done, but because of something amazing that God did, which was send His own Son, fully God and fully man, down to earth to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.

The way our pastor interpreted these verses has stuck with me, especially since moving back to North Carolina, where everyone goes to church and most people try to do the right thing, but most people are doing the right thing from a cultural background rather than a spiritual calling. Our pastor said the danger is that we are morally pure, but spiritually empty.

So, rather than ensure your children have a good understanding of Old Testament law, or ensuring that they "obey right away" as another Kindergarten curriculum teaches, talk with them about who God is, what He looks like, how He loves us, and how to invite Him into their hearts and commune with Him. These are much more difficult lessons to teach, but by far the more important ones.

Don't let yourself continue drifting along on the waves of self-righteousness, leave the floating wreckage and jump in, you may have to swim for a bit, but you could also find yourself walking on the waves.
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