Is Our God Talk Far Ahead of Our Behavior?

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I’ve parked myself in the book of James. I’ve been thinking about silence and how it is good to ruminate on our relationship with God, on what we know about him, and then reflect on whether or not we are really following Jesus. I’ve said this before; but we mistake God-talk for godly lives. We can talk very sophisticatedly about God and yet live a God-less life. It’s a sort of functional atheism. It is also self-deception.
When I was younger and perhaps into my early twenties, I couldn’t believe the unfaithfulness of the nation of Israel as recorded in Scripture. Time after time, God did miracles, proved himself faithful, yet they worshipped other gods. They had rebellious spirits and wandering hearts.
The other day I was thinking about it and realized that our church, I’ll say the American Church because that is my context, is just like ancient Israel. We are anemic, ill Christians as a whole–although there are many, many,  incarnate icons of God walking around and drawing many to him–if we only have eyes to see them.
I think about my own life and wonder if I too am anemic. Where in my life does my God-talk exceed my God-living? Oh there are areas. Yes, there are. When we ask those questions of the Lord he will reveal things to us. For every deficiency in Christ character (deficiency in spiritual fruit) that I have, there is a corresponding fruit of the Spirit that God wants to grow in me.
So there needs to be times of silence and solitude in our lives–communal and individual reflection too–so we can get an idea of what fruit God is trying to grow in us. During these times, we must cease striving to right the wrongs in others and allow God to lovingly till our souls. Silence and a listening ear instead of a wagging tongue allow us to do that. As far as I go, I feel the Lord showing me that I need to train myself to pause when I am naturally inclined to speak. I just need to listen.  To listen.
I am a monastic activist by nature–a missional mystic I suppose. But the silence and stillness of the holy is calling to me. I need to reel that activity in. There are a million causes and needs all around me. But I need to retire to my cell, like Jesus, I need to head off to the lonely places in the wilderness to pray and be.
 Isaiah 30:15 says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength….” That’s what I mean. A rhythm of repentance and rest and quietness and trust is calling to me in this season. And as I get into that rhythm, I think that my God-talk and God-life will be more evenly matched. I will choose my words more carefully; my words will count for more.
I think this will be a year of further training in listening to God and others. May God have mercy on me a sinner and give me these graces.

2 thoughts on “Is Our God Talk Far Ahead of Our Behavior?

  1. Hey Marlena,

    Great post. Another example of a group of people in Scripture whose God talk didn’t match their behavior were the Pharisees. Consider John 8:

    30As he was saying these things,(BA) many believed in him. 31So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, (BB) “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32and you will(BC) know the truth, and the truth(BD) will set you free.” 33They answered him,(BE) “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
    34Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you,(BF) everyone who commits sin is a slave[b] to sin. 35(BG) The slave does not remain in the house forever;(BH) the son remains forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet(BI) you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38(BJ) I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard(BK) from your father.”

    39They answered him,(BL) “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, (BM) “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40but now(BN) you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth(BO) that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him,(BP) “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have(BQ) one Father—even God.” 42Jesus said to them, (BR) “If God were your Father, you would love me, for(BS) I came from God and(BT) I am here.(BU) I came not of my own accord, but(BV) he sent me. 43(BW) Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot(BX) bear to hear my word. 44(BY) You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.(BZ) He was a murderer from the beginning, and(CA) has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him.(CB) When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47(CC) Whoever is of God hears the words of God.(CD) The reason why you do not hear them is that(CE) you are not of God.”

    Reading this passage has been valuable to me. It has taught me that knowing Scripture and parading about as if you know it are detestable. It is DOING what the Scripture says (trusting & obeying) that God truly values.

    Also, if you are looking for a good read about “repentance,” here is an article I found helpful.

    http://thethirdspace.net/?p=1211

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