The disciples of Christ had been raised in a religious environment that was infatuated with activity. Giving alms, fasting, praying in public, attending all the feasts, maintaining an outward show of good works–all the things that made the Jews look like good followers of God on the outside.
Do we not present that same environment today? At times it seems as if we are more concerned with making good church members than we are with making disciples of Christ. We make sure new converts are enrolled in all the right classes. We find a job (or two or three) for them to do in the church. We give them all the books and Bible studies they can handle and tell them that if they do all of these things, tithe, and show up for visitation they will be a good Christian.
Now I am not knocking all of those things any more than Jesus knocked the law. These are all well and good, but they must come as a result of our fellowship with Christ not as a means of developing spirituality. The church of Ephesus did all the right works, but God chastised them for their lack of passion for Christ.
What happens when we fail to apply this principle? New Christians, in their blessed ignorance, are thrown into the fray and worn to a frazzle. An atmosphere of legalism is fostered which turns into an atmosphere of manipulation and control which turns into an atmosphere of weariness and disillusionment. The woods are full of people who “used to be church-members”, who “used to teach Sunday School”, etc. who eventually got burned out on doing and never learning about the difference Christ wants to make on the inside.
Jesus, in His sermon, began to introduce the concepts of genuine godly testimony, purity of the heart, faith, personal worship and obedience to His words. These themes were repeated over and over by the New Testament writers. Paul’s feelings were, “All my achievements are dung! I want to know more about Christ!”
May God help us to be Christians whose hearts blaze with a heavenly passion, ignited and fueled by time spent with Jesus.