July 24, 2014

Resisting God: Pretending

Isaiah 29:11-14

These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
—Isaiah 29:13


Sometimes we defy God deliberately. Other times we try to resist him passively, giving God the silent treatment as we refuse to pray, worship, or even talk about him. 

Another strategy for resisting God can be that we pretend to be following God. We merely go through the motions, even though our hearts aren’t in it.

Sometimes we do that in our marriages or families. We may dutifully go through the motions of fulfilling our spouse’s demands, while inwardly bristling at the burdens placed on us. Or we may technically do the tasks on our parent’s chore list, but the look on our face shows that we’re not doing it willingly.

Sometimes we also do that with God. We appear to be participating wholeheartedly in the things of God, but it’s mostly for appearances. We may sing in worship or participate in the discussion at a Bible study, but our participation has more to do with not wanting to look bad in front of our friends than really wanting to honor God. One of the scary aspects of organized religion is that we can easily “fake it.” It’s possible to go through the motions in church for years while carefully keeping God at arm’s length. The result is usually a grim religiosity lacking in faithfulness and joy.

How about it—when was the last time you merely went through the motions of serving God?

Lord Jesus—you see right through us. Please show us what you see. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Ron Vanderwell

Ron Vanderwell recently became the senior pastor of New Life Church in New Lenox, Illinois. He has been a pastor for 22 years, serving as a church planter for the previous 12 years at The Gathering in Sacramento, California, and before that as a pastor in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ron and his wife, Deb, have three sons: John, Adam, and Jake. Ron shares more of his reflections on “squinting” for God in his blog at www.squintforgod.com.

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