1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
Once again we are back to the immense practicality of the Bible. True Christianity is never an “ivory tower” religion. Times of intense private and corporate worship and praise are always reflected in interaction with the world around us. If they are not, they are not worship in truth, and Jesus specified that the worshipers the Father seeks are those who will worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24) We certainly need “mountain-top” experiences to encourage us and keep us going in the valleys, but going from conference to conference, speaker to speaker, chasing such experiences is ultimately neither productive nor pleasing to God. It is a huge blessing to be in a meeting where the presence of the Lord is strong, but if that doesn’t change how we live in the daily grind, then our personal experience was a counterfeit, however real it might have been for the person next to us. God desires fellowship with us, and such fellowship is incredibly sweet, but that fellowship is brought to depth and maturity only as we allow Him to live and act through us toward the people around us. That is what John is talking about here. It’s very clear that protestations of love while you’re seeing someone else on the side are pretty empty, but many Christians fail to realize that their Sunday morning activities are meaningless unless they are living out their faith the other six days of the week. None of us are perfect, but all of us need to be active in applying what we say we believe, in every area of our daily lives.
This is something I thankfully realized quite a few years ago. It certainly helped that I was raised by parents who lived out their faith in just about every way imaginable. Even so, I have demonstrated that I am all too proficient at deceiving myself. (James 1:22) Precisely because I know the “approved forms” so well, it is too easy to just go through the motions and so depart from the truth. It is only as I allow God’s love to flow through me to others that I will appreciate and appropriate it fully myself. I too need mountain-top experiences from time to time, because slogging through the valleys can get pretty draining, but it is in the valleys that I am most transformed to be like Jesus. I can’t write that without a particular song running through my mind and heart: “For the God of the mountains is still God in the valleys….” My experience is not unique precisely because it is true, so I need to “be there” for others, whether they are on the mountain-top or in the valley.
Father, thank You for the privilege of ministering to a sister over the past few of days as she went through the valley of her father’s death and funeral. Thank You for the mountain-top of his being baptized on his hospital bed, so that she has the assurance that she will see him again. I pray that the love that flowed over the past two days in particular would draw all of his family and friends to the same commitment he made. May theirs not be as last-minute as His! I pray that You would continue to work through all Your children to draw many more into Your family, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!