The Illusion of Fervency and the Reputation of Zeal

I’ve unashamedly stolen my title from Dave, one of my former teachers. When I read those words in a recent post of his, I was struck by their truth. I, too, am familiar with the illusion of fervency and the reputation of zeal.

No matter where I am, I seem to quickly learn how to blend in to the culture around me. In a church, that looks like raising my hands during worship and taking notes during the message. In a prayer room, that looks like pacing or sitting with my Bible open. But how quickly do those legitimate things turn in to just an illusion to keep those around me from finding out that I’m daydreaming?

Pacing is actually a good example of the illusion of fervency. Visitors to a prayer room often think that those pacing are the “super spiritual,” that they are really “engaged” with the team on stage. In reality, most of us pace for two reasons: to stay awake and to stay focused. I guess it’s just another example of, “Man looks at outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)

Just like this commercial illustrates, things are often not what they seem. I guess I’m just trying to say that instead of wanting to look righteous, these days I’m more interested in actually living it out on the inside. Yes, I still have fear of man, but I want to be sincere in everything I do, even if it goes against the culture I’m placed in.

The Danger of Remaining Blind – Part 3

If you’ve been following the series, you may relate to me and know that we need to take some of this before the Lord. Maybe not, but if that’s you, you are who I’m talking to.

My opinion is that we’re content. We’re so content with what we know about God that we don’t bother to get to know Him.

If I am married to someone, I want them to be able to make an executive decision involving me without having to ask because they know me so well. In the same way, God’s given us stewardship – sovereignty – over His creation and I want to preside over it the way that He would.

I want to know what God is thinking, what He feels about things I’m passionate about – abortion, homosexuality, the prayer movement – what He would do in a situation without having to ask. That’s only possible through daily encounter with Him. I’m not even talking about sitting in a prayer room for hours. I’m just talking about the whispers throughout the day that invite Him into little things in our lives.

If I want to be able to describe a beautiful Being not because I’ve heard about Him or read about Him but because I’ve encountered Him, Jesus told us we just have to ask.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Rev. 3:20

The Danger of Remaining Blind – Part 2

In the previous post, I drew the analogy of a blind person being able to describe in vivid detail things that they have never experienced and correlated it to many Christians. I lived a proverbial blind Christianity before the Lord opened my eyes. When I was that girl in the coffee shop – living out the epitome of what I thought a Christian was supposed to be – I had no idea how much of God I was missing.

I was overwhelmed when the Lord began to give me a new perspective: I was so small and knew so little of Him and the more time I spent with Him, the larger and more mysterious He became.

When Jesus spoke to the church of the Laodiceans, He chastened them not because they were doing something terribly wrong, but because they didn’t know the state of their own hearts:

“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy and have need of nothing’ – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…” Rev. 3:17a

There are a couple questions I ask myself when I feel that I may be putting spiritual sunglasses on:

  1. Am I content with the knowledge I have about God, or am I living on the fuel of daily revelation?
  2. Am I changing daily, despising my weak areas and asking the Lord to transform me into His image?

The first question I ask myself because I don’t want to make God distant. I want to always remember that He is intricately involved in every detail of my life. The second I ask because I find that I get into trouble in my life when I feel like I am doing pretty well (when I don’t see any areas I really need to work on). I used to keep a quote on my wall which said, “As soon as you think you have conquered sin, you are about to fall.” I find that my heart is healthiest when I grieve my weakness and lean on Him to conquer it.

The Danger of Remaining Blind – Part 1

I recently heard two college-aged Christian girls catch up with each other’s lives. I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation. They discussed a number of Christian principles, religious theologies, and mission trips as they sipped lattes from little ceramic cups.

There was nothing wrong with these two girls. Two years ago, I was one of them: sitting at a coffee shop catching up with a friend and discussing the great ideas I had about God. What I didn’t know was just that: how much I didn’t know.

Someone who is born blind only knows the colorless world they have experienced. They don’t know what they’re missing – a sunset or a beautiful painting – because they’ve never experienced it before. They don’t know what they’re missing because they have no grid for what it is like to see. However, they may be able to describe a beautiful picture for you – even though they’ve never seen it themselves.

No, I’m not talking Christian-ese “we’re not about a religion we’re about a relationship,” what I’m saying is that even the Christians are missing it. I can colorfully describe many aspects of God that I haven’t experienced. Many Christians live their entire lives this way. They talk about Jesus as if they know Him because they know about Him: they know His friends, they know His biography, but they don’t know Him.