Christianity 201

July 1, 2011

When Your Mind’s On Other Things

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.  But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.   Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

James 1:5-8 (NLT)

The last sentence above, verse eight, is the one many of you know as “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.

I often think of double-mindedness as meaning a person who is doing one thing one minute, and something quite different or contrary the next minute.  In other words alternating between two distinctly different purposes, such as we see in this verse:

Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

I King 18:21 (NIV)

But double-mindedness can also exist when we are actually wavering while we are on task.  I discovered years ago that I could be reading my kids a Bible story, and my lips were moving and I was saying all the right words, but I was thinking about something completely different; occasionally something not all that wholesome or encouraging.

I thought of this when I read the note someone had left with one of those confessionals where you write your comment on a postcard and mail it in, and then some are selected and posted.  Trust me, I don’t revisit this site anywhere  as often as I once did and especially since elsewhere I’ve commented how some seemingly innocuous things — like reading advice columns in the newspaper — can be a gateway to more problematic things. However, it does provide a window into the lives of many broken people.

The writer describing reading this website — and who knows what others — while sitting in the choir loft of a worship service is bad enough, but the parenthetic remark at the end suggests that sometimes the images constitute what we would call soft porn.  And so, there we are sitting in church, and we see the pastor and the choir is sitting there, and it never occurs to us that one of the choir members might be…  I mean, why would you want to sing in the choir if that’s where your mind is at?  Does the one activity somehow cancel out the other?

A more accurate scripture — not that the two already mentioned don’t apply — would be

  “These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
   but their hearts aren’t in it.
…[T]hey act like they’re worshiping me
   but don’t mean it…

Isaiah 29:13 (The Message)

Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me

Isaiah 29:13 (NKJV)

This verse is referenced by Jesus as well, and may be found at Matthew 15:8 and Mark 7:6. 

Because it’s possible to be spiritually multi-tasking; or multi-tasking on one thing that is outwardly pious or spiritual, but one other thing that is far from God, we need to guard ourselves from this letting this situation happen. When it does, we are guilty of the “spiritual acting” or hypocrisy that Jesus so often addressed, in fact the scripture actually takes this one step further:

“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other!

Revelation 3:15 (NLT)

Finally, I think it’s necessary for those of us who see someone committing an act of blatant hypocrisy to call them on it.  Someone was sitting next to that choir member and would have had occasion to glance at their mobile device; especially given that they would have to hold it a good distance away to avoid it being seen by the congregation. It’s a time for reaching out to help, not a time for condemnation.

If you see a Christian brother or sister sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life.

I John 5:16a NIV

~Paul Wilkinson

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