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Monday, April 18, 2005

Devoutness

Jeff Jarvis brought up an interesting point Friday about devoutness. He said:
"So here's an odd contention: Church attendance is not a measure of devoutness, in my view and I know that is a minority view). Religion is personal and need not be institutional and should not be judged on the basis of such open indications as church attendance or eagerness to talk about religion or willingness to incorporate religion with politics."

As a Christian, I'm not sure what "devoutness" is. I don't ever recall seeing it mentioned in the Bible.

I tend to think that devoutness is a term used by non-religious people to describe those that seems particularly religious. This term is probably fairly useful when talking about most religions, but I don't think it applies in the same way to Christianity.

In most religions, devoutness is the means to the end, be it God, heaven, oneness, etc. Those means would include regularly praying or meditating and following various prescripts of the religion.

However, Christianity is quite different. Christianity says that the ends come first. That is, God gives us faith first, so that we can do the means. And they aren't really means. They are the results.

It is no wonder that most non-Christians don't get this, since we Christians usually don't get this ourselves. We think that if we just go to church enough, or pray enough, or follow all the rules, that God will love us.

I remember in college being asked what my life would look like in five years if I were still a Christian. I had been taught to answer that I would be attending church regularly, having a daily bible study and praying, and other church-related activities. It took me years to realize that this was completely bogus.

I started to see a glimmer of the truth when thinking about my grandparents. My grandparents were probably the best examples I have ever had of what a Christian looks like. My grandparents were about the most humble people I have ever met who were always willing to put others before themselves.

I realized that this humility came from a clear realization of their own sinfulness. As I grow older, I see it too. I see how flawed I am. I see how I usually want my way rather than God's way. I see how I do what I don't want to do.

As to Jeff's point about devoutness, a bit of humility would certainly go a long way for those Christians who are speaking out about politics.

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