As I approach the half-century mark in age I’ve been thinking a lot about my life. I guess that you could call it a mid-life crisis of sorts. Last year I bought a 2013 Dodge Challenger, which I drove for a few months and sold when common sense caught up with me, and this year I bought two Behmor 1600 coffee roasters (sorry Ann).
The common factor with both of these purchases is an underlying desire to have fun and use things like cool cars and fresh coffee to bring people together. I started a car ministry called h.o.o.d (Holy Order of Dads) that is currently on the back burner and I just started a coffee ministry of sorts called Mad Scientist Coffee.
As have been reflecting on the past 25 years, I’ve realized that I have started, or been a part of, more Bible studies and church small groups than I can even remember. I’ve enjoyed all them and I have benefited and grown because of the awesome mentors and friends in each of these groups. During this time I’ve graduated from an easy to understand Living Translation Bible to a Greek and Hebrew NIV Study Bible. I must say that it makes me feel rather scholarly to enlighten our discussions by looking up the original Greek or Hebrew words from which the English translations are derived during Bible studies. I’m also proud to say that I’ve worn out several Bibles over the years and I have the ripped, torn and taped Bibles to prove it.
So with all of this study and toil what have I learned? I’ve learned that it’s a lot easier to study and teach what Jesus taught than actually do it. I’ve learned that it’s easier to write checks and drop clothes and food off in a drum than it is to actually take the time to get to know the names and faces behind the needs. I’ve learned that it’s easier to pay people to do the ministry that we should be doing ourselves. I’ve learned that I probably don’t need to go to anymore Bible studies because I already know more than I’ll ever have the courage to actually apply. I’ve learned that spiritual obesity may just as serious an epidemic in Western society as physical obesity.
I mean lets get real for a moment. Can you remember the last time that you did something totally selfless? How did that make you feel? Did you feel closer to Jesus? I did!
Would you trust a medical doctor that aced all of their medical tests, who could dissect a cadaver like no other, if they never actually applied their knowledge successfully to a living human being? Of course not! So why do we think that we can understand what Jesus was talking about when we keep striving to grow our knowledge without actually practicing what we are learning? If we eat too much and don’t exercise we get fat. I’m wondering if the same can be true of our spiritual life.
So what should we do if this is true? How do we lose physical weight? We eat less and exercise more. Maybe we would be in better spiritual shape if we studied less and served more. What do you think? I think that it’s about time for me to push away from the table and get busy. I think that James had it right when he said, “faith without works is dead.” This rant made me think of what Jesus taught to a group of Pharisees and experts in the law as recorded in Luke 11:37-54.
37 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38 But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal. 39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you. 42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. 43 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces. 44 “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.”45 One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.” 46 Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. 47 “Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your ancestors who killed them. 48 So you testify that you approve of what your ancestors did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. 49 Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ 50 Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all. 52 “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.” 53 When Jesus went outside, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, 54 waiting to catch him in something he might say.