Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Respectable Sins - 1) Ungodliness

Don't tend to think of myself as ungodly, so it was a bit of a shock to read the chapter in Jerry Bridges' book on ungodliness. I approached it thinking that it might be interesting and put it down thinking God had done a number on me.

Bridges defines ungodliness in this way. It's a long quote but worth reading:

“Ungodliness may be defined as living one’s everyday life with little or no thought of God, or of God’s will, or of God’s glory, or of one’s dependence on God. You can readily see, then, that someone can lead a respectable life and still be ungodly in the sense that God is essentially irrelevant in his or her life. We rub shoulders with such people every day in the course of our ordinary activities. They may be friendly, courteous, and helpful to other people, but God is not at all in their thoughts. They may even attend church for an hour or so each week but then live the remainder of life as if God doesn’t exist. They are not wicked people, but they are ungodly.

Now, the sad fact is that many of us who are believers tend to live our daily lives with little or no thought of God. We may even read our Bibles and pray for a few minutes at the beginning of each day, but then we go out into the day’s activities and basically live as if God doesn’t exist. We seldom think of our dependence on God or our responsibility to him. We might go for hours with no thought of God at all. In that sense, we are hardly different from our nice, decent, but unbelieving neighbour. God is not at all in his thoughts and is seldom in ours.”
Respectable Sins, p54.

Ouch! This is too much like me. How self-sufficient do I kid myself I can be? How much of my prayer life is based on "Help!" or "Please bless my 'To-do' list"?

The passage that we looked at in church about this on Sunday was James 4.13-16 which warns us:

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.

Verse 13 sounds like the sort of thing candidates on the Apprentice say in the boardroom to try to impress Lord Sugar with.

Verse 14 reminds us we don't know what tomorrow will bring (and how true that turned out to be on Monday!) and that life is brief. So we mustn't be too quick or too certain in making our plans.

Start of the year we are all filling in diaries and calendars. Whose plans are they? Whose agenda? Have we even asked the boss? Or do we still figure we are in charge?

(The photo is of Siena in Tuscany. We were going there for our tenth anniversary. Then tomorrow happened - in the form of a car clutch needing replacing - and we went for a picnic instead).

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