External Conformity or Internal Transformation?
External conformity without internal transformation is the essence of consumer religion, at least that’s my experience.
It doesn’t surprise me. It’s easy to put on a good show for other people for the two hours a week we dedicate to attending a religious church function, worship service or Bible study.
It’s easy to fake being something we are not. It’s easier to hide our pain or mask the dysfunction in our lives by just agreeing and shouting amen to whatever rant we might hear from the pulpit on Sunday morning. That’s not a knock on pastors, parishioners, or anybody in particular. We are all a part or have played our part in that system.
Some of us are sincerely disgusted by it and are honestly asking God, “is there more to religious life than this?
The Good News is that there is more to the religious life than serial church attendance. There is a Life in Christ that isn’t being withheld from you, it’s simply a case of God waiting for you to seek it out. God wants to reveal more of himself to you than can possibly be experienced in those old church-as-usual scenarios.
All you need to do is crack open your Bible to the Book of Acts so you see for yourself how free from religion the early church was! The world didn’t need a new religion, it needed a new relationship. The relationship I am referring to is Christ Jesus, the bridge between God the Father and His wayward prodigal children.
We have to diagnose something before we can get to the prognosis.
Jesus said it best...“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues”
Matthew 23:1-6 ESV
External conformity without internal transformation turns us into self-righteous religious frauds. The message of Christ resonated with people because His walk and His talk were telling the same story. The religious leaders He confronted were good at putting on a show, that’s all.
A skin deep religiosity doesn’t lead anyone to righteousness. It’s a pretentious piety, with holes in its fake holiness. I want nothing to do with it.
Inward transformation is what happens when we allow Christ to inhabit our stony hearts turning them into soft clay easily molded by His loving hands.
We no longer have to live our lives in a false and pretentious way. We can be authentic in Christ. Healing is only possible when we diagnose the problem and then trust the prognosis of the Great Physician, in whom we place our trust. You no longer have to fake-it-till-you-make-it. You can be free right right now. Invite Jesus into your messy life, not religion.
Much love from this Dusty Disciple to you.
-Pastor Jeremy E.