Style Over Substance
Written by Bob Truesdale   
Thursday, 16 October 2014 14:15

                                                                                STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE


     I was watching the news the other day and heard that a major car manufacturer was putting out a recall for a critical safety feature. I don’t recall the specifics but it wasn’t minor. The interesting thing about this is that the manufacturer has been putting out some very stylish cars lately. I remember thinking, “Style over substance! They might be putting out beautiful cars, but if they aren’t safe, who cares?”  As I sat there chewing over that report I couldn’t help but think, “Isn’t that just like claiming to follow Christ and yet our lives, when observed by those outside the Church, don’t seem to back it up?” Ouch!

     This is one of those chapters that as I’m writing, the Holy Spirit’s shouting, “Are you hearing this? Are you so busy preaching that you don’t examine your own life, with its secret thoughts, attitudes, words, and behaviors?” Yeah, big ouch! You see, it’s easy to be a Christian in church, with fellowship groups, or in my living room with my Bible and a cup of coffee. It’s quite another thing to be a disciple when I’m out on the road for four days (as a Flight Attendant), or in a fitness center among mixed company, or even in a mall, window shopping. Where I find out what I believe and where it’s tested is in the relationships that test my patience and ask me to return insult with forgiveness, apathy with compassion, and outright rejection of me or my faith with prayer and love for that person. Hey, it’s not even easy loving those who love me! As we repent of our sinfulness and invite Christ in our hearts, God hears and responds to such faith by saving our souls. Then He goes to work chiseling off the rough edges and vestiges of ‘self’. It’s a process that begins at salvation and continues until our last breath. The Bible calls it sanctification. It’s the lifelong process of God transforming our insides to reflect the living Christ within us. It’s not always fun and it’s certainly not easy! If the sinless Son learned obedience through that which He suffered, what’s that portend about our faith-walk while here on earth? To say it ain’t a picnic is an understatement! But remember, “He who began a good work within you will be faithful to complete it.”

     I used to have a friend that stated once, “I wonder what my decisions and choices look like from God’s perspective?” Good question. It’s one we should all ask ourselves on a regular basis. The enemy loves to tell us we’re doing fine on cruise-control, no changes necessary. In those long stretches of flat Florida highway driving, we call that falling asleep at the wheel. Many have crashed and died that way. Just like the professing Christian who lives an unexamined life. That you will crash is beyond dispute. The only question is when and how bad! When we ask how our lives look from God’s perspective, we have to be willing to hear the whole, sobering truth. And to do that, we must pull away from the cell phone, Facebook, CNN, text messaging, and all the other distractions that keep us from actually hearing from God. The Sovereign creator will not compete with a distracted life. “Be still and know that I am God,” is not just a good idea, it’s a command. The Bible tells us often that Jesus, “Went out to a lonely place to pray.” Undistracted. You and God. Him speaking-us listening. Quieting our spirit’s to listen to His voice seems to be a lost ‘art’ in today’s ‘drive-through’ hurry up already world. And that’s exactly the way Satan wants it! I once knew a gentleman who called himself a Christian who got perturbed with me for saying that I prayed over every major decision that came my way. “Haven’t you ever done anything impulsive for God?” he demanded one night.

“Yes, and I regret it every time!” was all I replied. Less than a year later he forced a Christian brother of mine out of his leadership position at a local shelter. The man and his wife lost their income, health insurance, and all their savings because this ‘believer’ did something ‘impulsive’ for God.

     Style over substance. We can fool the world and even ourselves but the Bible says that God tests the hearts. He sees it all. He knows it all, even our motives. Take some precious time today and shut off every gadget you own. Find a quiet place. Quiet your spirit by focusing on a few Scriptures and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. My prayer life is so much me speaking to God that it’s hard for Him to get a word in edgewise. Imagine a marriage like that! Intimacy is where both parties speak and both parties listen. It really works and it really bonds! All Hell is breaking out so you won’t actually do this. Prove them wrong. You won’t regret it! “They looked to Him and were radiant and their faces will never be dismayed.” Bank on it!