By Drew Zuverink
"The servant who knows the master's will but does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."
We expect more from people who should know better. For example, if a one or a two year old pushes another kid's head into the dirt, we would be upset. But we would also realize that as a young child they might not know better. They still need to learn right from wrong. If, however, a twelve year old pushes someone else down, we would view that as evil. That's because people who know what they are supposed to do, but they still choose not to do it - that's not ignorance, that is rebellion.
Jesus says the same is true for us. Our pastor just preached a sermon on the parable of the good Samaritan and he made the comment, "Knowing what you are supposed to do is useless unless you do it." In other words, if you sit in a church pew and listen to 500 sermons about sharing your faith but you never do it - those sermons were not a blessing to you in any way. If you have heard all the teachings on forgiveness but you are still refusing, you are cherry picking Bible passages. If you learn from the scriptures that each person has been given a manifestation of the Holy Spirit that they can use to serve the church (1 Cor 12:7), but all you do is attend church - you're in rebellion. If you know what you are supposed to do and you just don't do it, that is not just useless for you and for everyone else, it's pure sinful rebellion (James 4:17). It's very similar to a toddler who folds his arms and tells his mother, "No."
This might not be new information for you, but how easily are we sucked into complacency as Christians? We might know what we are supposed to be doing but so does everyone else in our church, and they aren't doing it either. It must not be that big of a deal then. A person who truly lives out their faith is a radical now days. Shoot, when is the last time that you made a practical change to your life because of something you read in the Bible or heard in a sermon? If you can't even remember, please consider honestly that you might be in a place of rebellion. We ought to approach our Bible's and each sermon with an attitude of, "Whatever changes you need to make in me God, make me willing and able. Speak to me and let me know what they are because I am listening." Otherwise what use is church?
Sometimes Christian's also have this weird relationship with feeling convicted - as if the end goal is to just have our consciences disturbed. We tell the pastor, "It was like you were speaking to me. I need to be better about that." Or we go on a men's or a women's retreat and we're moved to start prioritizing our family's spiritual formation more than anything else in life. But then we make no real practical changes to our actions. And at the end of the day, unless we are moved to action, it's all useless.
Check your heart today. What knowledge do you have that you're not acting on? How might you be in rebellion against God? And remember, as a Christian who has most likely grown up in the church, you cannot plead ignorance. If you know what you ought to do but you just aren't doing it, even if everyone else is doing the same thing, your knowledge isn't just useless - it makes you a rebel.
May God soften our hardened hearts and bend our stiff necks so that we can participate in his glorious plan of reversing the curse. There is no greater way to live.