A couple of weeks ago I joined a Bible Study at our church. It’s Priscilla Shirer’s study on the armor of God and I’ve really been enjoying it. It’s a 7-week video series along with a book to work through in between videos.
Last week we discussed how one of Satan’s strategies is to disguise himself as an angel of light. He tries to make his deceptions look as much like truth as possible. I recognized this in a post that came across my feed today and decided to speak up.
(I know this isn’t good form, but I’m just going to post bits and pieces with no link.) If you want to read the whole thing you can google “Addie Zierman Blog.” Here are the parts that stood out to me.
I had lunch the other day with a friend. Over soup and salad at Panera, she told me about the unexpected suicide of a family member on Christmas. Then, she told me about the subsequent conversation she had with her Christian college roommate after she returned to school for second semester.
“How’s your walk with God?” the roommate asked, and as my friend told me this, I found myself rolling my eyes so far back into my head that it gave me a sudden rush of headache.
She goes on to say:
While I recognize the importance of the spiritual disciplines of prayer and quiet and Scripture reading, I no longer believe that they correlate directly to that vibrant, heady spirituality that I used to frame as “success.”
What? I mean…what? That sentence directly contradicts itself! It literally makes no sense.
Out of curiosity this week, I Googled questions that Jesus asked. I wanted to know if this How’s your walk with God business had any biblical grounding, and so I read through several lists compiled by pastors and bloggers and theologians.
This is the Jesus who doesn’t, in the end, ask How’s you’re walk with God. Nor does he ask How’s your prayer life? Are you doing your devotions? Are you in the Word? Are you plugged in to a church?
Sooo….you’re saying Jesus doesn’t think your prayer life matters? Or that devotions/Scripture/fellowship matters? Just because we don’t have a record of Jesus asking that question doesn’t mean much.
In fact, none of his questions seem posed to assess the spiritual performance of the people he’s talking to. Instead, they reach deeper, toward desire and identity.
His questions reach into the hidden places, the unwell places, the broken places – not to suggest that we get it together, but to show us that he is holding it together for us.
I agree with this. And this is exactly why people NEED to be praying, reading the Bible, attending church, and staying in fellowship with other believers!!
Toward the end of her post she says:
Ask better questions, sweet pea. Ask them to yourself. Ask them to one another. Ask that which you cannot answer and then be quiet.
This was my comment:
I’m not sure about this. First of all, Jesus didn’t ask “How’s your walk?” because he was talking directly to the person and they were talking to him. Today, as he’s no longer here on earth, this would be, well, prayer. Read through the book of Ephesians. Especially where Paul is talking about the armor of God. Prayer, Bible study, and fellowship are the bedrocks of our faith and lives. We grow and are strengthened by these disciplines. They are our lifelines! I know firsthand the blessing of practical deeds (a meal, watching children, listening) but, ultimately, the best thing I can offer someone is HIM. To direct them back to him, to a full, vibrant relationship with Jesus. There is no substitute. Asking someone about their “walk” or relationship with God is not shallow or dismissive – it is *everything*. This is how the apostle Paul was able to say, “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.b This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
8We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
11Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 If you read about the life of Jesus and his followers and the early church, you read about how they incorporated these disciplines into their *everyday* lives. And it infused them with vibrancy and power. They are so important! It’s what allows the Holy Spirit to guard our hearts and our minds and it’s precisely how we can love and serve others well!
One of the other ladies who left a comment said that she was asked this question “How is your walk with God?” when she applied for a children’s ministry position. She said she felt like replying with, “It’s none of your business.” She went on to say, “What, did they think I’d corrupt the kids as I’m serving them juice?”
Over the years I’ve read this type of thing over and over (cough, Rob Bell, cough). Different and yet so very much the same. These angsty Christians hipsters who are trying so hard, so desperately, to make the Gospel fresh and relevant and new. They want to be seen as deep, but they come off as shallow. Their logic is deeply flawed and their writing is full of inconsistencies and, sometimes, downright poetical-sounding nonsense.
If you want to dig into Scripture and read and study and share with others, then go for it! I think that’s a wonderful thing. I love when people bring to light cultural insights, language clarifications, etc, that help us understand context and what not. But please don’t pick out one verse, or one random thought from your own head, and try and make something out of it. Because, ultimately, there’s nothing of substance there and it will only fall flat at best and lead people astray at worst.
Listen, the Gospel is relevant. The Gospel is deep. The Gospel is enough. Now and always. Nothing added, nothing taken away. Steeping our lives in the Gospel and prayer is what gives us joy and peace and all of the other fruits of the Spirit. It strengthens our daily walk and is there for us in dark, difficult times.
Thinking that spiritual disciplines is nothing more than drudgery with no benefit is a lie straight from the enemy. He’s trying to keep us as weak and ineffectual as possible. Be wiser than his deception and dig back into the Word. Use that as your guide and it will see you through.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Ephesians 5: 22-23