Sunday, August 30

Sign Readers or Pilgrims?

It's one thing to read the signs along the road, quite another to journey toward a destination. To point the way is less involved than putting your foot to the path. Some "Christians" attend church and only ever learn the signs. They adroitly point in the right direction, but wince at the thought of allegiance to the heavenly Companion. As an example take the chief priests and scribes who pointed the Wise Men in the right direction, but did not take a step to see (much less worship) Jesus in Bethlehem (Mt. 2:1-6).

Which are you--sign reader or pilgrim traveler? Much depends on how you learned Christ or how you were taught. The scribes knew the answer, the wise men sought the savior. Tremendous difference! In this information-glutted age, how do we who follow Christ become more like wise men and less like scribes? Psalm 25 sets our feet on the right path!

The Psalmist begins with, To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. Lifting up the soul is another way of saying I desire or yearn for God. There is a sense of expectation in it, of destitution, of dissatisfaction with the status quo. We come to God ready, needing help, wanting filling. For what? In verse four he pleads,
Make me to know your WAYS, O LORD; teach me your PATHS.
I have highlighted two words--ways and paths because they indicate far more than mere knowledge. As Spurgeon puts it, "Four times over in these two verses [4-5] he [David] applies for a scholarship in the college of grace" (Treasury of David, 1:392). This is the kind of grace we need in order to live holy lives not just talk religiously. Talk is cheap. Path and ways stress lifestyle change, or an alteration in our worldview. A person's worldview is his philosophy of life--how we view good and evil, politics and religion, work and play. Point? It is not enough in church to surface facts about God, to merely inform Sunday School classes of Noah's ark, Aaron's budding rod, or the lions in Daniel's den. Rather, we must ask what these well-known stories teach us about God, his power, love for him--in short, the way God thinks and moves. What do they mean? We must do more than give the WHAT of Bible knowledge; we must answer the WHY of Scripture as well. Only then can we be said to have entered into the ways of God, and begun learning his paths. The purpose of a path is to travel it. To know about the path, or to have taken a myriad photos of it is not the same. Walking in the way of God requires intimacy, relationship, a certain vulnerability in conversation, and time. Time! I fear that what we have inadvertently been teaching our churches is the art of visitation, not of people, but of God himself! We walk the pathways of this world, and then satisfy ourselves with a mere visit with Jesus on certain days of the week! That is not what salvation is about on any level. Does it not border on blasphemy to relegate our wonderful Savior to few short disengaged minutes each week!? No wonder so many people find God boring and so many churches grow anemic. There is honestly little that can be termed relationship at all. God help us!

Let us seek out what David teaches in Psalm 25, lift up our parched souls in holy dissatisfaction and seek him who by his grace draws us into the path of yearning and love and joy. The call of Christianity is not to "drop-in" on God once in a while but to quit this world and throw all effort into walking with Jesus every day! Put yourself into the path of grace today.

He who would valiant be 'gainst all disaster,
Let him in constancy follow the Master.
There's no discouragement
shall make him once relent,
his first avowed intent
to be a pilgrim.

John Bunyan

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