If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Always a Choice

The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. (Psalm 14:2)

Oh that My people would listen to Me . . . . (Psalm 81:13)

So, I’m talking again on the phone with Harry. You might remember him from my June 4th blog post. He’s the one who asked a question about the Scriptures and preferred a sound-bite answer instead of actually opening the Bible and reading the sections I’d suggested.

This time he asked me why bad things so often happen to good people. I cited several Biblical passages in an effort to help him arrive at some semblance of understanding, but then our conversation turned to the subject of sin. Harry told me he has only one. “I have a hard time forgiving the guy across the street from me,” he said.
“You have only one sin?” I tried not to sound incredulous.  And because I sensed our conversation needed to go in a different direction, I bit my tongue to not remind him of the Lord Jesus’ comment in Matthew 6: “For if you do not forgive others their sins, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you your sins.”  

"Yeah,” his tone suggested he thought it normal that most Christians might be guilty of only one or two sins.

We talked for a few more moments about the way sin can control our lives without our knowing it, but I could tell I was getting nowhere. Then I said, “Harry, let me make a suggestion that might help you. I learned years ago if I really want to know of any sins I need to ask forgiveness for, I should ask the Holy Spirit to reveal them to me.”

He didn’t respond.

“So," I pressed the point, "after we hang up, why don’t you get quiet with God and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any other sins besides unforgiveness that you might be committing.”

“That’s an okay idea,” he answered. “But I can’t do that now. My favorite show is about to come on the TV.”

I immediately thought to tell him he just added idolatry to his list of ‘one’ sin: Thou shalt have no other gods before me. But again I thought better of it. I doubted there’d be much chance to dissuade someone from choosing prayer over his favorite TV show when he’d already demonstrated he was happy with sound-bites to his questions than to read the Scriptures for himself.

Twenty-five hundred years ago God spoke to Israel through the prophet Jeremiah (17:9), “The heart is deceitful above all else, and is desperately sick.” That’s why it’s so easy for us to stand in darkness, convinced it’s sunlight; to dine in a sewer, convinced it’s clover. And that’s why it’s easy for so many Christians to accept religious mediocrity and spiritual complacency, convinced we’re doing all we can to show Christ how much we love Him.

Truth is, we have as much of Jesus as we want when we are content with the form of our religion, even while we are without its power.

I’m not surprised Harry does not recognize his darkness. In the 40 years I’ve walked with Christ, I’ve learned that those who find reasons to avoid the effort required to read the Scripture will also find reasons to avoid the effort required for serious prayer.

But communion with God occurs most often in silence. Away from the television. Or the crowds. Mother Theresa said, “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. . . We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

After they entered the Promised Land, Joshua challenged the people, “Choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). He knew the surrounding culture would always present them with the choice between serving God or serving themselves, to walk the broad and easy way, or the one requiring effort and purpose.

Our twenty-first century culture presents us the same choice. And the Holy Spirit presents the same challenge.

“Choose.”

In addition to obedience and humility, I believe one way to show God we’re serious about our faith is to ask Him to reveal to us our sins, especially those we excuse, rationalize, or consider insignificant. Another way to show Him we’re serious is to make the time to spend the time reading His word.

Each of which are infinitely better choices than satisfaction with sound-bites, or watching television.

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