Jeremiah 33:3

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God’s Cry…

I love when God stirs my heart so violently that it shakes my stubborn hands into action. Sometimes He’s subtle and soft in His encouragements and guidance. Sometimes He is loud and uncomfortable and abrupt in His will. And then there are some times when He so clearly answers the cry of my heart that it is almost eerie–He answers so directly and so specifically that it leaves me wonderstruck.

This is one of those times.

It would not be a typical day if I didn’t question my true faith and obedience to the Lord at least a dozen times.  I feel like those are natural thoughts for an individual striving to know Christ more, love Christ more and trust Christ more.  There is this common misconception that Christians have some supernatural grasp on their faith and their walk with the Lord. But the fact of the matter is, the more you think you have figured out, the less you probably know.  Christianity is not meant to be comfortable and “figured out”. It is a faith of overwhelming humility and neediness. That constant state of tension is a beautiful thing–it reminds us how little we have figured out. It reminds us how desperately we need Him.

The more and more I have talked to non-believers and believers, alike, the more and more uncomfortable I’ve become with the state of Christianity today.  We are living in an age of hypocritical Christianity. We have churches void of Spirit. We have “Christians” void of faith. And we have lost and hurting people void of Light.  On one side, we have people SAYING they love Christ, but living lives guided by this world.  On the other side, we have people scorned by the guidance of this world, simply HEARING about Christ’s love.  But if there is no example being set, there is no Light being shined. If we are only saying and hearing, rather than DEMONSTRATING and WATCHING a world be healed through Christ’s love, we all simply find ourselves sitting in the DARKNESS.

We, as believers, are called to be the body of Christ. His hands. His feet. His love in a lifeless world. People need not to simply hear about that love, they need to see it and feel it and know it is real.  That is a big responsibility. But that is the call of our lives. One of the most heart-changing sermons I’ve ever had the privilege of sitting under was delivered by Francis Chan at Passion Conference 2012.  In the middle of his message he was telling a story and brought up the fact that God does not listen to all prayers…

 
–What? Hold on…That’s not what I’ve been told in the past. What ever happened to God hearing our cries? What ever happened to the all-knowing God? The one who loves and listens and answers all of our prayers…? What do you mean He ignores some?–

Chan continued on to address a verse that has since mesmerized me. Isaiah 1:12-19 says…
 

“When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations– I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land…”

 

Wow. If that stirs your heart as much as it stirs mine, I imagine you’ll need a moment to catch your breath.  What overwhelmingly convicting scripture.  What a call-out…

 

If you find that you’re upset right now, you should be. But I want you to take a moment to think about WHY you are upset.  Are you upset because you’re offended that God may ignore you at times? Is it because you think it’s unfair and judgmental that He would be selective in who He listens to and who He answers? If so, shame on you.

 

Or are you upset by this verse because you claim that you’re in a loving relationship with Christ, yet your promises and offerings and commitments to him are often shallow. I claim that I love Him, yet I rely on my own guidance. I rarely trust Him. I rarely take His words as literally as I should. I rarely act on the stirring of my heart.  Who am I to cry out in prayer for Him to bless me with things and do things in my life and help me, when I ignore Him the majority of the time.  What type of loving relationship is that?

 

As the body of Christ, as His hands and His feet, who are we to call out for His blessings when we are defiling His Kingdom here on earth with our lack of love and trust and faith in Him? We should be embarrassed of ourselves. As “Christians”, and as a church. Amos 5:21-24 goes on to say…

 
“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” 

These verses have weighed so heavily on my heart lately.  I constantly cry out to God, yet I ignore Him when He cries out to me.  Healthy, loving relationships are not take-take relationships. They are give-and-take. They are balanced and developed in love. I found myself crying out to God the other day. Crying out for His blessings and His adornment in my life. Then I sat down at my computer and pressed play on my iTunes. Suddenly, He cried out, back to me…

The songs you sing My heart has grown to hate them
The meetings of the saints are all in vain
Under steeples marked with crosses I see darkness
For sin abounds under false pretenses

Wake up from your sleeping My redeemed
Remove the evil deeds from My eyes
See the orphan see the widow’s needs
Learn to get on your knees and serve each other

If you lift up your hands I will not see them
Even though your many prayers I will not hear
For My pleasure is not in the sacrifices
But in the righteousness of the heart that makes it

Wake up from your sleeping My redeemed
Remove the evil deeds from My eyes
See the orphan see the widow’s needs
Learn to get on your knees and serve each other

Your sins are like scarlet, but they will be white as snow
You wear evil like a garment, but I’m giving you a brand new coat
And if you are willing to live by all My commands
You will know Jesus and you’ll drink from the Father’s hands

Wake up from your sleeping My redeemed
Remove the evil deeds from My eyes
See the orphan see the widow’s needs
Learn to get on your knees and serve each other