More than religion

Today we have a guest post from writer Jennifer Slattery.

When my daughter was young, I spent a great deal of time shining up the inside and outside of our house. I wrapped so much of who I was in what others could see. Pretty ugly, huh? God thoughts so, and as I grew closer to Him, He redirect my heart to things of greater value—eternal value.

It’s easy to get just as distracted in our faith-walk, but if we spend more time quoting Scripture than living it, there’s something wrong. It’s like shining up a kitchen floor that never gets used.  Pointless, right?  Similarly, James 2:14 tells us faith without deeds is dead. No matter how many religious services we attend, no matter how many prayers we pray, if our religion doesn’t move past the church sanctuary, it’s dead. Decaying, putrid, in fact.

Listen to God’s charges against the people of Sodom. When most of us think of Sodom and Gomorrah, our minds jump to sexual sin. Isn’t that how we treat most sins? It’s easy to think of the “big ones” like sexual immorality and murder, overlooking those “minor” offenses like selfishness, slander, and greed. But does God follow a similar classification?

Consider His words spoken to Sodom through the prophet Isaiah:

10 Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; ?listen to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah! ?11 “The multitude of your sacrifices—what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; ?I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. ?12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, ?this trampling of my courts? ?13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. ?New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. ?14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. ?They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. ?15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; ?even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening (Isaiah 1:10-15 NIV).

Those are some harsh words! What were these people doing to make God so upset?

It wasn’t so much of what they were doing, but instead, what they weren’t.

Your hands are full of blood!

16 Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. ?17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. ?Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

God wanted them to be actively involved. He told them to seek justice. To defend the oppressed. To take up the cause—become an advocate for—the orphan and the widow.

At our local pharmacy, a sign is posted behind the cash register. It reads, “I wondered why somebody didn’t do anything. Then I realized, I am somebody.”

Jennifer in El Salvador

We know we are to care for the needy. Most of us desperately want to make a difference, but when we look at all the needs in the world, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. We don’t know how to help. We feel as if our small efforts are insignificant, and so, we get discouraged. Before long, our discouragement leads to paralysis, and if unchecked, paralysis leads to apathy.

To be effective, we need to realize God never called us to change the world. In fact, He probably hasn’t even called us to change our cities. (That’s His job.) But He has called us to allow Him to love others through us, whether the “others” occupy a neighborhood or a single home. And we’re not alone. He has countless other believers sprinkled throughout the world, each one reaching out to someone else. On our own, our efforts feel insignificant, but if we could but step back and see the world through God’s eyes, we’d realize much is indeed being done. Millions are being fed, educated, helped, comforted.

Today, I invite you to join the love-campaign. You don’t even have to leave the house to do it.

Simply pop by the Mary Kay website (https://www.mkmakeovercontest.com/gallery.jsp?id=163379 ) and vote for my not-so-lovely mug shot. If my photo wins, Mary Kay will donate a total of $5,500 GoThreads (http://gothreads.org/) and the Raining Season (http://www.therainingseason.org/). As an added incentive, Mary Kay consultant Sharyline Cochrane (http://www.marykay.com/sharilyne/default.aspx) is giving away $10 gift certificates and free make-overs (in person or via Skype) to everyone who votes then lets us know they did so in the comments of this post. You can vote up to five times per day, so start clicking! J

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Jennifer Slattery lives in the Midwest with her husband and daughter. She writes for Christ to the World Ministries, the ACFW Journal, Internet Café Devotions, and Jewels of Encouragement. You can connect with her online at her devotional blog at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com or via Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte

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