There But Not There

NOTE: This is from the devotional guide of our church, Filinvest Community Christian Fellowship. Today is Day Four of our Prayer and Fasting week.

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Have someone told you, “You are physically present but mentally absent”? Our mobile phones and tablets made us miss on a lot of conversations over meals. Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter were supposed to connect us. Yet, we get so disconnected from each other. We are there but not there.

This leads us to the third sign of toxic spirituality: “Work without worship.”

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When we look for what we can get from the church and not what we can give, when we want to be served there and not to serve, when we go to our gatherings to be entertained and not to be edified and equipped, and when we ask to be blessed only and not to be a blessing also, we work without worship. 
Most people think of the church as a drama, with the minister as the chief actor, God as the prompter, and the laity as the critic. What is actually the case is that the congregation is the chief actor, the minister is the prompter, and God is the critic. [1]
The Lord Jesus warned about this “there but not there” attitude. “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me”. (Matthew 15:8, ESV) One glaring example of work without worship is when we sing songs in our worship services. We mouth the lyrics but do not meditate its meaning in our heart. We are there in the pews singing but our mind is somewhere else (like where we will have lunch after the service). We listen to the sermon but we think it’s for someone else and for us. We’re there but not there.

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Or, we get animated with what we learned from the Word but we fail to apply it in our lives. That’s connected also to the fourth mark of toxic spirituality: “Devotion without discipleship.” 
True devotion is expressed in discipleship to Christ. Otherwise, it is merely the feeling without the doing. Lip-service without the life to show for it. [2]
We feel the fervor but we fail to follow through. Our excited promises to God are not expressed in action. When we are hearers of the Word only and not doers also, we lie to ourselves (James 1:22). However, God can see through our hypocrisy. 

Step #4 To Detox: Read James 1:22-25. Make a list of the things you committed before to do for God but remain unapplied. Look at the list and choose the top three to do for the rest of the week.

[1] Edmund Chan, Cultivating Your Inner Life: Reflections on Spiritual Formation in Discipleship Today 2nd Edition (SG: Covenant Evangelical Free Church, 2011), 50. Emphasis added.

[2] Ibid, 51. Italics his.

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