My last pastor in Virginia said something quite profound:
What you do is what you believe. The rest is just talk.
Somewhere along our path to where we are, we learned that talk is cheap. We may hold our own word as unbreakable, but we’ve learned, usually painfully, that others do not hold to such ideals. And if we were to look at our own lives without bias or fear of uncovering a litany of shameful deeds, we would learn that our words don’t mean as much as we would like to think. We say we love God, then we hold a grudge against someone or we judge others. We walk past the homeless, rather than loving them in any way we can. We pray for mercy, but are unmerciful, even to ourselves. We pray for patience and greater faith, then cry out to God when trials meant to grow our faith and patience come our way.
We want to worship God, but I don’t think we know what that worship means. If worship is empty words and songs sung off-key on Sunday morning, then God is glorified in every church in America. If worship is gathering together with Christians once a week, shaking the hands of those you already know, then waiting impatiently for the sermon to end so you can go to lunch, then He is glorified. If worship is talking about the message and how to apply it, but never really getting around to applying it, then God is indeed worshiped.
But what if worship is something more?
What if worship is not just aligning our words and some token actions with what God would have of us, but aligning our everyday actions as well? What if we are meant to forgive others from the bottom of our hearts instead of just saying the words and avoiding that person going forward? What if we are meant to love those who are drug users, homeless, prostitutes, alcoholics, or those who have gotten abortions? What if we are to actually love people without judging their hearts, without trying to change them to be more like us and instead loving them and letting God change their hearts? What if we are meant to behave as Christ tells us to?
And beyond even that, what if we are to do these things, not as a means to please God or make friends or feel like we’re good Christians, but because we actually love God and so love others through Him?
On Friday, there was a family sitting outside Wal-Mart asking for food. Leah and I went in by the other entrance and only saw this family on the way out. I was torn as to whether to find a way to turn around and help them and, regrettably, I continued home under the excuse that we had to be somewhere shortly. Leah went back and gave them some food, but my heart was not completely in it. It was worried about how we could afford to do this and how we’d get where we were going on time and…on so much else that only showed that I believed I was more important than serving Him.
There are many things I need to change in my life. When I think I’m getting better, I tend to ignore how much room for improvement remains. When I draw closer to Him, I see even more in my life that He has to work on in my heart.
And it starts with what I believe.
What do you really believe? Don’t look at what you think you believe or what you say to others. Look at what you do. Ignore the excuses you use. And ask yourself just one question: Am I worshiping God, or do I just say I do?