Today’s AMI QT Devotional is written by Pastor Ryun Chang.
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY
2 Corinthians 4:2
Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
Taking liberty of what the apostle Paul says here, I am going to set forth the truth of what we (Western Christians) are really like before God—our secret, shameful and deceptive ways!
Chris, a tall and lanky American whom I befriended while attending the same seminary, had already spent eight years in Mozambique as a missionary, when he came to speak at my church’s summer retreat as the guest speaker. (This happened a while back.) In one presentation, he recounted how exceedingly difficult it had been to minister in this very poor country, but by God’s grace, he and his young family were determined to serve the people there. So moving was his heartfelt sharing that—especially how he almost died when the ship that was carrying him (to a ministry) was at the brink of shipwreck after getting caught in a hail storm—it was enough to make a grown man cry. That is why it was so incredulous to hear two young-adults, who said to me after the service, “Does that missionary think that he is the only one suffering; we suffer, too, at work!” What a nonsensical comparison; what a delusion!
Actually, suffering for Christ the way Chris experienced is a concept that is beyond us who live in the comforts of modernity. Most of us don’t really know experientially what Paul meant when he penned, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed. . . Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 5:8, 16). Its reverse is more like it: “Thanks to our cushy lifestyle, we are not pressed at all and certainly not crushed. . . Because outwardly we are getting ‘fatter’ and ‘softer,’ we are wasting away spiritually day by day.” “Too harsh,” you say?—only if we are measuring our faith to a new norm, that is, the watered-down version of what is passed off as optimal Christianity. Yes, I am opening myself to criticism (“You self-righteous judger”), but I always chuckle whenever I see this tract, produced by a well-known parachurch on campus, that suggests that our daily 7-minute with God should be spent this way: three minutes in prayer, and four minutes reading the Bible. Really? To believe that seven minutes a day is enough to cultivate an intimate relationship with God is both deceptive and delusional. The sad truth is that most Christians don’t even do that much. For instance, Christianity Today reports that “only 19% of churchgoers personally read the Bible every day.”
For the past six weeks, I have been in San Francisco to train several young pastors on the move. Each day begins with 6 AM prayer meeting. We keep the singing and sharing to its minimum (15 minutes), so that the next 75 minutes are spent praying individually. Our goal is to firmly establish this habit and exercise it for the rest of their lives. Why? Of course, it is to build our intimacy with God, but also that we might wake up from our delusion that we really are something before God when we aren’t much spiritually. (Yes, I know—positionally, we are always perfect in Christ.) If anything, dragging our body to church that early REALLY helps us to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Let’s not be too impressed with ourselves with so little that we do for the Lord—that’s a delusion. Let’s extract ourselves from a life of comfort and frivolous luxury; reign over the desires and excesses of the flesh; and let us deny ourselves and take up his cross daily and follow Christ (Lk. 9:23).
Prayer: Lord, I am tired of just knowing that I need to read the Bible, but not acting upon it. So, speak loudly to my soul—“Read the Bible daily!” Lord, I am tired of just talking about the need to pray but not praying. So, speak even louder to my soul— “Pray always!” Help my laziness so that I can live a life that is worthy of Your calling. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Leviticus 14-15