God Is

Day 28

Distracted from Him by It

Read your Bible: Mark 7:1–7

Spotlight Verse:

These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.Mark 7:7a

“I tried Christianity and it doesn’t work.”

“I don’t know how to do it.”

“It’s too hard.”

I listened as the man unloaded his frustrations in my office. Then I wrote down those phrases on a piece of paper as he watched.

“Look at the sentences you’ve been repeating,” I told him. “What’s the most common word here?”

He looked at the paper and answered: “It.”

“There’s your trouble,” I said, paraphrasing David Seamands, one of my favorite Bible teachers and a man who’d helped me through my own struggles with legalism. “The Christian life is not an ‘it.’ The Christian life is Christ: A real relationship with God!”

In today’s passage Mark describes how meticulously the religious leaders of his day observed their traditions. They were very religious. But Jesus quotes Isaiah and says,

Their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules. Matthew 15:8b, 9

They were distracted from Him by It. Focused on the religion, not the relationship.

It’s the same criticism Christ makes later of the Ephesian Christians. He tells them He has seen their good deeds, their hard work, their high standards, how they cannot even tolerate any wicked people…

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Revelation 2:4

Very religious. No relationship.

That’s why, when asked by religious leaders to name the greatest commandment, Jesus answers:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Matthew 22:37–40

For God it’s all about love.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”Please don’t let this study turn into an autopsy of God, a lifeless examination of words about Him. Love Him with your mind… and your heart and soul. Let revelation reignite that first love for God. As you learn more of what the Bible says, let it add to the mystery and the awe-inspired love, instead of subtract.

“This is the first and greatest commandment.” Jesus says all the other commands follow it. That’s because the only effective way for people to change their behavior is not for them to try hard to change their behavior. People change when they fall in love.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” When I love God because I see that He loves me first, I want to love others in practical, life-changing ways, precisely the way God loves me.

At our church a woman named Lisa makes gift baskets for disabled veterans. One Valentine’s Day she put together packages full of donated gifts for female vets recovering from horrible trauma — and tucked this letter inside each one:

Hi, my name is Lisa. I haven’t served our country (I cannot thank you enough for that) but I have had more than my share of unenviable experiences. I grew up in chaos and then found the same in my adult life. I have countless exterior scars and far deeper ones on my soul… But I have found healing and wholeness from God himself!

These baskets have a ton of love in them; your cards were made by the children — and signed by the members of Twin Lakes.

You have to know how much you’re loved —and especially how special and precious you are to God… I really do hope you enjoy them and the dinner; you are beautiful and cherished!

When you know how beautiful and cherished and precious and special and loved you are to God, your heart overflows with love for Him and for others!

God is… not an It.

Questions For Reflection

Do you ever get distracted from Him by “It”? How?

Ask yourself: Have I thanked God for His love to you today?

Have I shown love to someone today?

Be ready to share with others how God’s love has overflowed in your life this week — perhaps in moments of pure worship or insight, or in opportunities to show practical acts of love to others!