Lip Service

“You planted them, and they have taken root. They have grown and produced fruit. You are ever on their lips, but far from their conscience.” (Jeremiah 12:2 HCSB)

“Small Town Southern Man” by Alan Jackson played; I sat in wonder at the chorus: “. . . and he bowed his head to Jesus, stood for the country, and loved one woman. . . .” I like country music when it includes this type of theme. I like Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus, Take the Wheel.” I hope, I pray, that it is not only with their lips that they speak of our Lord; I want desperately to believe they bow their head, their lives, to our G-d. I have hopes that people will hear and understand that it’s really okay to live an observant Christian life, to have a life that encompasses Y’shuaJesus.

Am I naive? Do they, rather: “. . .play lip service to [G-d], but do not serve, do not worship [G-d].”

Previously we have looked at service based upon an obligation that we have as children of the Creator, believers in the salvation wrought upon the cross by Y’shuaJesus, empowered to live by the Holy Spirit. Noblesse Oblige! But what marks us as believers? Can we preach the Gospel without words, as St. Francis said? Are we observant of any Biblical regulations, though not a requirement for salvation?

What is an observant people in light of the freedom we have in Christ as the fulfillment of the Law? Since we no longer feel a compulsion to observe the 613 laws derived from the “Old” Testament, as our Orthodox Jewish brethren do, what do we observe? Will we continue to call legalistic anyone who would observe a regulation based upon the Bible. We are free to live without regulation. We are free spirits, blown in the Spiritual breeze. Our salvation is assured. We didn’t earn it. So we can forget the Law?

Am I cynical to say that the only time regulations are spoken of from the pulpit is when it’s time to play the tithe card, or when it suits the preacher? We teach children about the Ten Commandments, but do we teach them to live them? What do we teach new believers in Messiah about obligations and regulations?

I don’t have answers. I have questions that demand examination. We need to each examine the different Laws for ourselves: the dietary; the rituals that include dress codes; and the moral codes. I think we can agree we have an obligation to continue observance of all moral Laws, at least.

If we observe the moral laws, then this must mark us as slaves of Y’shuaJesus. Yet even non-believers observe moral laws. So what marks us as Christians? Is it having a fish on our cars? Is it wearing a cross around our necks? If I read the Bible in the morning, if I pray throughout the day, will you know that I’m a Christian? What marks me as different? Think about it.

Perhaps nothing external marks us as belonging to Messiah, being a Child of G-d. Perhaps! Yet faintly I hear in my mind the chorus of a song we sung back in my days with Calvary Chapel of Susanville, California. “They will know we are Christians by our love.”

It is our love that marks us as Christians, disciples of The Messiah, believers in the Son of G-d, the Son of Man. It is love that binds us together. It’s not about external stuff, it’s not even about external actions. It’s about love. G-d loved us first. Now we love.

May G-d grant us the mind of Messiah and the love of G-d to worship with holiness with our lives. Amen.

Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

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