Anemic Christian

 

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My tears pour down like a river, because people do not obey your law. – Psalm 119:136 (TEV)

I was in high school when I first discovered I’d been anemic as a child. I wanted to give blood in a blood drive, but my father told me I couldn’t.

“What’s anemic?” I asked him.

“It’s when you don’t have enough iron in your blood,” he told me.

I never discovered why I was diagnosed with anemia, but over the years, I found if I took supplements, I felt more energetic and better all around.

Anemia can be caused by a lack of iron, vitamin B-12 or folic acid, all of which help in producing and transporting healthy, oxygen-rich red blood cells throughout the body. Oxygen nourishes and enables each part to function at full capacity. Without it, you can become tired, weak, and forgetful.

I’ve come to use the term anemic to refer to anything weak and ineffective. An egg, for example, is anemic if the yolk is a pale yellow instead of a rich, golden color. When I taught, a student’s barely audible response was anemic.

Even Christians can be anemic. God brought this to my attention as I read Ezekiel 9. Through the prophet, He warned the Israelites that judgment for their idolatry would be certain and swift.

“Go throughout the city of Jerusalem,” God commanded the judgment angel in Ezekiel’s vision, “and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.”

I sensed God asking me, “Would you receive a mark on your forehead?”

No. I wouldn’t. My attitude toward the sin in the world around me and those living without God had become callous. “I’ve made my choice and I’m going to heaven,” I reasoned. “They’ve made their choice, too.”

This isn’t the attitude God wants in His followers. I was an anemic Christian. A lack of faith had rendered me weak, tired, and forgetful of my responsibility as one of God’s own. My heart had become a heart of stone, not a heart of flesh, one God could use (Ezekiel 36:26).

Yes, I write an inspirational column and publish books of devotionals and Christian fiction. I serve as a lay pastor for a small congregation. I’ve produced a daily inspirational radio program and taught in a Christian school. But, I realized, it’s easy to evangelize behind a newspaper column, a book, a microphone, or a teaching podium. It was the one-on-one, day-by-day, personal reaching out to others I’d been avoiding.

Why? Because I fear rejection. It hurts. It’s embarrassing, even though I know it’s not me they’re rejecting, but the God who loves them and wants them with Him in heaven forever. I forget the Holy Spirit is the One who does the convicting and convincing (John 16:8). That Jesus’ blood, not mine or any words of mine, is what will remove their sin and make them acceptable for Heaven. That God alone draws the lost to Himself (John 6:44).

All I am is the voice, the channel, the instrument God uses to reach them. But I must be willing, and I must have a heart that breaks for the sin I see around me.

To cure my anemic Christianity, I need supplements: genuine, heartfelt prayer; introspective, digging-deep Bible reading; meditating on what I’ve read and applying it to my life; and spending time with those whose fire for God is blazing.

Only then will I find the strength to proclaim the cure for the sin that ails the world: the cleansing, love-rich Blood of the One who died so we may live.

Lord, give me a love for the lost, a heart for the hurting, a sorrow for the sin in the world, and a holy boldness to proclaim Your message of love and hope. Amen.

Read and meditate on Ezekiel 9:1–8

Magnifying Glass or Prism?

 

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You’re to be light, bringing out the God-colors in this world. – Matthew 5:14 (The Message)

 When I ran into an old friend in the supermarket—seems like the grocery store has become the social center of today—we spent several minutes chatting and getting caught up. We’d been in a young mothers’ Bible study together years, actually decades, ago, and such shared experiences kind of cement the bond we women have, even though time and life have a way of leading us on separate paths.

“What have you been up to?”

“How are the kids?”

“You look great!”

Somewhere in the conversation, I said, without thinking, “If we’re not in the center of God’s will, we’re going to be restless and miserable.”

Immediately I sensed I’d crossed a line. I thought about my statement the whole way home, hoping I hadn’t offended her.

While I believe the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19–20) is given to every believer, and thus is my duty, too, I’m not bold—some would call it being “pushy”—when it comes to what we Christians call “witnessing.” While there are those who just seem to have a gift for telling a perfect stranger about Jesus, I’m not one of them—unless I sense God’s nudging. Words on paper, OK. Face-to-face, huh-uh. I’m too much a chicken. “Preach the gospel at all times and, if necessary, use words” is more my style of evangelism.

But, even in that capacity, I wonder if I’m doing the job right. After all, I’m only human, and I fail every day. And such failures are the reasons why non-believers accuse us believers of being hypocrites. “I’m not a saint—I’m a sinner saved by grace,” “I’m not perfect, just forgiven” aren’t excuses or reasons to allow myself to blatantly disregard what God has told me in His Word.

But like the apostle Paul, “when I want to do good, I don’t; and when I try to not to do wrong, I do it anyway” (Romans 7:19 LB). Hence I have no right to judge others.

Yet I have this wonderful life God has given me (John 10:10), a guidebook to life on earth (2 Timothy 3:16–17), a beautiful-beyond-description home in heaven awaiting me (John 14:2), and the key to it (1 John 5:11–12). Shouldn’t I share this knock-your-socks-off story with others?

Yes. In the words of the late Pirate announcer, Bob Prince, there is nooooooo doubt about it. After all, James says, a faith without works is a dead faith (James 2:18). “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).

And doing what it says is to live my life so that all that I do is pleasing to God, letting His light shine in and through me. “I’m putting you on a light stand,” Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:15–16 (The Message). “Now that I’ve put you there . . . shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

A magnifying glass makes things look bigger than they really are, like other folks’ faults. A prism, on the other hand, bends the light passing through it, breaking it up into a rainbow of colors that showers those nearby.

Dear God, let me not be a magnifying glass, but a prism. Amen.

Extra Tea: Read and meditate on Matthew 5:13–16