The Greatest Danger to Our Soul: It’s Alright.

What is it?

It’s blinding
It’s easy to measure
It misses the point
It kills our soul
Steals our joy
Places us where we ought not to be
And accomplishes it’s goal–which is to blind us.

The scariest people I have ever seen are the ones that are always alright. They got it altogether. They have cute jobs, nice cars, great houses, cute clothes, and perfect kids. They always talk nice, look nice, and are pleasant. You never hear an unkind word, sense any anger, or prejudice. They attend every church event, school activity, volunteer in the community, and skip around the house smiling and enjoying life. It’s all alright.

They don’t talk about really blunt things to anyone. They don’t complain about their husband, admit how they hate cleaning, and make their kids fend for themselves once in a while. They don’t ever gossip, or tell the truth for that matter. They never tell their tall tales of when they got drunk, when they stole candy from the store, the first time they tried drugs, or that ten year period they skipped church. They don’t admit how they lose hope on a consistent basis, how they use sex to manipulate their husband, how they hate their life, and how often they desire to take go one drink over moderation. They don’t because it’s all alright.

They don’t need to be honest to me, but they need to be honest to someone, why? Have we sold them a bill of sale that says these are the rules and if you cross over them you are in trouble, but if you maintain them than you are alright. You are safe, socially acceptable, you can smile all the time, display your inner pride, feel good, glean with happiness, and are assured that in the end you will be okay. If for a few moments you kind of wonder if you are alright than just look around at all the things you have. Your prosperity must be a sign that everything is okay. Anyone who is bad wouldn’t have what you have.

The Greatest Danger to our soul–legalism.

In counseling I always cherished, and almost preferred, people who came to me and said, “I have no need for God, He pisses me off, and I hate Christians. I know I am not right with God and I don’t care.” Great! I know exactly where you stand. We aren’t playing games are we. What I had a hard time with was the people who came to me and thought everything was alright.

They learned to say the right things: “They preach, but do not practice” (Matthew 23:3)
They learned to do the right things: “They do all their deeds to be seen by others” (Matthew 23:5)
They keep others from knowing Christ: “For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces” (Matthew 23:13)

“We are in danger of developing ways to appear godly without really preferring and prioritizing God in our hearts” (Segal, 2017)

Following the rules that church and society make for us help us to feel that we are okay, but in reality we may not be okay. In reality we may be far from God. I went to church and followed most of the rules growing up in my mother’s home, but as soon as I had an ounce of freedom my true self was displayed and that person was far from God. She was a rebel and a lover of sin. She planned ways to do it more. She was not alright.

Are we who we say we are or who we hope we are? Are we clinging to an illusion that we have conjured or are we standing on solid ground? We don’t have to look around very far to see that our world is hurting. It’s a scary place out there. We aren’t sure if we can attend a concert or go to church and be safe. Our kids may not come home from school, our husband may be out having an affair or sexually assaulting someone, we may get a diagnosis, or lose so much hope we end our life. At times like that it’s important to know if we are truly a follower of The Way.

Examine yourselves….

Paul exhorts us to examine ourselves. We don’t need to be fearful, but we need to be aware. Here are some ways to do that:

1. If I knew the secret part of your life would I be able to see fruit of a relationship with Jesus. Not perfection, but fruit.

Self-control, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (Galatians 5:22)

2. When faced with extreme stress, suffering, and trial how do you react?

Self-control, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (Galatians 5:22)

Suffering is an opportunity for growth. It’s often a time when God prunes and replaces. Have you grown through suffering, is there fruit being produced or are we relying on sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and things like these (Galatians 5:19)

3. Do you enjoy and long for God? Do you feel drawn to Him? Not to church, but to Him. Guilt often drives us to attend church, but a relationship with God drives us to Him. Out of our relationship we do things to please Him like go to church, but church attendance is not a sign everything is alright.

4. Have you seen change since you came to know Him? Someone at work keeps telling me, “I just didn’t change, I just didn’t change”. I read the Bible and even preached for a while, but I have never really changed. He needs to examine himself. Consistent change is a hallmark that everything is okay.

 

I knew a lady. She said she was a Christian and attended church sporadically. She came to me for guidance because her life was messed up. She came to me one day and shared how she was going to meet a man in a hotel and stay the weekend with him. She wanted to know if it was okay?

I asked her what she planned on doing. She said we will go shopping and out to eat. What else? What do you mean? What else are you planning on? I don’t know what you mean. You booked a hotel and nothing else has crossed your mind. She said no.

I handed her a Bible and asked her to look up Exodus 20:14 and read it out loud. She read, “thou shall not commit adultery”. I didn’t say anything. She put her head down and her face got red. She knew. She said can I come see you again. I said yes. Is she alright? I don’t know, but her church attendance doesn’t guarantee that she is. It doesn’t make everything alright.

Our nice cars, education, vacations, fancy purses, great kids, good homes, Christian music, and church attendance don’t make it alright. What does? A true relationship with a simple Man. Think of Jesus sitting at the wedding and making some wine. Feel His sweet Spirit. His simple faith. Ask yourself am I connected to that? Am I truly alright? Do I long for Him, miss Him, and need Him.

The best thing you can be is honest. It’s refreshing and eternally beneficial. Do you know Him and are you truly alright? It is my prayer you do. You know I wasn’t alright for a long time, but took all the actions that told me I was. In the name of doing the right thing I went forward once and was baptized twice. I went to church faithfully, memorized Scripture, and even took my kids to church as an adult, but I was as far from Him as I could be. It all looked alright, but my heart did not know Him. I knew I was His when my heart longed for Him, when I started missing fellowship with Him through prayer, and when I hungered for His living Word. I knew then I was really alright. Do you know?

Marcy Pedersen

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