Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.

It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment that I realized how shallow my faith truly was. I just know that God started leading me again and again to verses and commentary and thought that highlighted what Jesus said in Luke 11:28 . . . "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it."

Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.

The words began reverberating in my mind constantly.

Had I observed, kept, and obeyed the word of God since my conversion more than ten years earlier? Of course I had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God -- we all do, every last one of us (Romans 3:23). That's why Jesus died on the cross -- to forgive our sins. But I came to realize that I was guilty of a far greater sin -- the sin of omission. Not only had I read God's instructions on what not to do and failed to stop myself from doing those things, but worse than that, I had read God's instructions on what to do and completely ignored them. I had not cared for the widowed and the orphans. I had not loved my neighbor as myself. I had not even managed to love God above all other gods -- self and security had served me just fine as idols to devote my life to.

In the process of trying to rid myself of outward sin, I had completely neglected the inward sins of laziness and apathy. Whatever fire I had in my heart for Christ when I thought about His love for me and His sacrifice for me (because it's all about me, right?) was surely in danger of being extinguished by the lukewarm water of my Christian witness. What had I really done for the Kingdom of Christ? I had spoken against sin, surely. I stood up in my community for morality and obedience and wholesomeness. Fine, even the Pharisees did that much. But when was the last time I had fed the hungry, ministered to the sick, befriended the lonely outcast? I was increasingly embarrassed to realize that the answer was, "I can't even remember."

Thank God that He had the mercy to hold this mirror in front of my face while there was yet time to fix the deformities. I can only give glory to Him that I even noticed my ugliness, because in the fundamentalist protestant culture of the United States, I am sorry to say, I fit right in. Sadly, I was like one of the pigs in that old Twilight Zone episode where they were giving the beautiful woman plastic surgery. So surrounded by ugliness was I that I had come to think of it as beauty.

This is not to say that fundamentalist Christians are all this way (not by a longshot), or that there is someting inherently flawed with fundamentalism itself. But the way it is increasingly being practiced here in America, with churches commercializing themselves to attract membership and preaching mostly "life application" with very little spiritual application is a recipe for a self-centered, self-serving body of Christ.

So where am I going with this? Is it just a rant? Is there a point to this story?

That's the funny part -- I don't really know. I started this blog as a way to work through my spiritual issues as God continues smacking me upside the head with His truth. You can follow along if you like. For right now, I have left the fundamentalist mega-church I've been attending for five years and have been taking communion at a small Anglican church on Sunday mornings. It's not a divorce with the mega-church, it's more like a sabbatical. There's too much wonderful teaching there to leave forever. But for me, the sheer size (10,000 members) of my old church made it very easy for me to sit on the sidelines and never do a thing. No one ever called me on it because hardly anyone even knew my name. After a just one month at the Anglican church, most of the congregation knows my name, my spouse's name, and my son's name. It's not likely we'll be able to sit in the back and be lazy now. I'm also there for the spiritual application teaching. I don't just want to know how to apply God's word to my life anymore -- I want to know how to internalize it, become it, and apply it to the lives of others in a way that blesses them. So far, the Anglican church is challenging me on that.

As for the crisis in the Episcopal/Anglican church at large, I'll be covering that on this blog, along with the problems in the Lutheran church of my youth and some of the very different, but equally frustrating problems in the fundamentalist/evangelical church at large. Don't worry, though, it won't all be bitching. As God leads me down this new path, I expect there to be blessings and epiphanies, and incredible joy as He leads me to a new understanding of what following His Son really means.

So read if you like. Comment if you want to. I welcome additional perspectives as I try to find God's beacon of light through the fog that men and our traditions have for so long created around it. May God bless and forgive us all as we stumble like clumsy babies toward His truth.


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