TAKING GOD SERIOUSLY
By: Simeon Young
Sports is serious business. It is perhaps one of the major industries in America.
Sports enthusiasts readily recite rules, memorize plays, and trade baseball cards with the earnestness of a religious convert.
If you doubt this, consider that the pastor of a large Dallas church interrupts his Sunday sermon to announce the scores when the Dallas Cowboys are playing at home.
I heard recently from a reliable source that a Pentecostal church in Houston, Texas, showed the Super Bowl in their church gymnasium. I’d say that people are serious about sports when Sunday evening service is pre-empted by a ball game.
Even the rules of sports are serious and exact: from home plate to first base is EXACTLY 90 feet; from the floor to the basketball rim is EXACTLY 10 feet; a football field is EXACTLY 90 yards long. Sports buffs don’t fool around with measurements and rules.
What difference does it make if it’s 90 feet or 9 feet to first base? What difference does it make if it’s 10 feet to the basketball rim? What difference does it make how long a football field is?
It doesn’t make one iota of difference to me – because I’m not serious about sports.
Let’s face it, a lot of “religious” stuff doesn’t make any difference to a lot of people because very few take God seriously. Oh yes, I know that during natural disasters and natural tragedies Americans think about God and take Him seriously. But as soon as there is respite, it’s back to the same old rut of indifference toward God.
Malachi’s message was directed to people who would not lay God’s commandments to heart. The Living Bible paraphrases Malachi 2:2 as follows: “You haven’t taken seriously the things that are most important to me.” Today’s English version translates verse 2 thusly: “You do not take my
Lukewarm Israel offered God service that they would not offer a human authority figure. “Try it on your governor sometime – give him gifts like that sometime – and see how pleased he is” (Malachi 1:8 – Living Bible.)
One of the results of not taking God seriously is that we try to get by with things as Christians that we would not even think about doing in any other area of our lives – promptness on the job but tardiness at church; enthusiasm at a church ball game but half-heartedness in worship, etc.
Malachi said that religion had become a drudgery to Israel, and that they were weary with God, and that they snuffed at God. “You turn your noses up at the rules He has given you to obey” (Malachi 1:13 – Living Bible).
Israel’s failure to take God seriously was also demonstrated in the fact that they did not take marriage seriously. God’s people were getting divorces as easily and as indiscriminately as people are today. If you don’t take God seriously you may not take His hatred of divorce seriously
The third area in Israel’s culture that revealed a lack of religious earnestness was tithing and offerings. But God did not take their attitude lightly. He said, “You have robbed me” (Malachi 3:8).
“To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My Word” (Isaiah 66:2). When we began to take God seriously, we will take what He thinks and says seriously. And when we take God seriously, He will take us seriously.
(The above material appeared in the December 1992 issue of The Pentecostal
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