When we first became friends, she showed me her treasures carefully stored in the drawer of her bedside table. Prayer cards, scripture cards offering words of comfort, and a tiny Bible—handled delicately; kept in mint condition. As soon as I had admired them, she returned them proudly to their box. Then she embarked on a litany of her sorrows and frustrations.
I thought, as I left a while later, that many of the encouragements and comforts she longed for lay encased in that little box.
Do I do that? I wondered. Do I shut up my Lord between the covers of the Book—because if I don’t, it will require something of me? Do I take only the easy verses—the popular ones that suggest love and blessings and angels to protect? Important, yes, but the Book holds so much more.
Do I study the context? Dwell on what it means to be “one with Christ” in obedience, heart, and purpose? What does it mean to “die daily” with Him? To “take up my cross and follow Him”?
There is nothing the Devil would like more than to keep Christ on the cross or enclosed in a box—entombing Him in lies and traditions; disguising Him in dogmas and ritual; diminishing Him to pleasing phrases and platitudes.
Honor Me with Their Lips
Separating humans from God and His beloved Son has been the Enemy’s goal since Adam and Eve. Centuries later, Jesus repeated God’s words spoken through Isaiah: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from me. Their worship of me is useless, because they teach man-made rules as if they were doctrines” (Matthew 15:8, 9). (CJB)
“If I had more pictures of Jesus on my wall, I think I could be more spiritual,” observed my friend. I’ve known her long enough to understand that her religious background is one of visuals and tangibles: statues, beads, crosses. I don’t want to argue with her. I want her to realize that Jesus is more than ritual or artist concepts.
“You did a nice job of arranging the pictures you have—but our real need is Jesus Himself.”
She nods, reaching out her hands for me to pray with her. We talk to our Savior, not far away in heaven but right here in this room—here by His Spirit—awaiting our invitation to be with us in the hurts, trials, and triumphs. It seems to comfort her that my prayers are not recitations but words from the heart, applying to the topics of our conversation.
You and I are continually given opportunities to bring our Lord out of the “box”—to lift Him out of the confinements of human concepts, traditions and ideas in order for us to discover a vibrant friendship and relationship with the Divine. Such a friendship cannot be contained or concealed.
“O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1). (NKJV)