January 2012

WASTED RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY

A. W. Tozer wrote an article entitled "The Tragedy of Wasted Religious Activity." He notes that there is probably not another field of human activity where there is so much waste as in the field of religion. It is altogether possible to waste an hour in church. The popular ads, "attend the church of your choice" may have some small value if they do no more than remind a civilization that this world is not all materialistic, and that there are some treasures that cannot be bought with money. Yet we must not forget that one may attend church for a lifetime and be none the better for it. 

Unfortunately, in the average church we hear the same prayers repeated each Sunday year in and year out, with the remotest expectation that they will be answered. It is enough, it seems, that they have been uttered. The familiar phrase, the religious tone, the emotionally loaded words have their superficial and temporary effect, but the worshiper is no nearer to God, no better morally, and no surer of heaven than he was before. Yet every Sunday morning for 20 years one might go through the same routine; allowing two hours for him to leave his house, sit through a church service and return to his house again, he has wasted more than 170 twelve hour days with this exercise in futility. It is possible to have motion without progress, and this describes much of the activity among Christians today. It is simply lost motion. 

The writer to the Hebrews says that some professed Christians were making time and getting nowhere. “Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. (12) For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. (13) For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. (14) But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Heb 5:11-14). They had plenty of opportunity to grow, but they had not grown; they had had sufficient time to mature, yet they were still babies; so he exhorted them to leave their meaningless religious rituals and press on to perfection.

The cause of this tragic spiritual waste is usually one of three things: the person is either ignorant of the Scriptures, an unbeliever, or disobedient. Tozer thought that most Christians are simply uninstructed. “After that first hurried entrance into the kingdom, where the believer trusted Jesus as his personal Savior and thinks all would be well, there is usually not much more said.  The new convert finds himself with a hammer and a saw and no blueprint. He has not the remotest notion what he is supposed to build, so he settles down to the dull routine of polishing his tools once each Sunday and putting them back in their box.” Thus, he or she needs instructions on how to live!

However, what is more alarming are the disobedient. There is no hope for spiritual growth while one lives in a state of disobedience. Let a man refuse to obey God on some clear point, let him set his will stubbornly to resist any commandment of Christ, and the rest of his religious activities will be wasted. He may go to church for 50 years to no profit. He may tithe, teach, preach, sing, write, or serve till he gets too old to navigate and have nothing but ashes at the last.

This tragic waste is unnecessary. The instructed, obedient Christian will yield to God as the clay to the potter, and the result will not be waste but glory everlasting.  

Where are you?  Are you wasting away spiritually in church? Now is the time to change. Make a difference this year in your spiritual life!
                                                                                                                             -Pastor Mike Kotrla