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June 4, 2021

How to Ignore God

By Kelly Adkins

Even as I started to write this article, I did it: 

I ignored God.

I read my assigned scripture, fired up my laptop, and tapped into my own history and skill to make notes about what I would say here. I did not first ask God to be near, to speak, to let me know what I should teach you. 

It’s far too easy to do.

I have a never-ending amount of trust in myself. I never thought I would say it (although unfortunately God just asked me to tell you!), but I live it. I often hurry straight into my days, my marriage, my parenting, my work, and my problems without seeking God first. 

I tap into my life experience before I pick up the Bible. I prioritize deadlines for things the world asks of me ahead of what God asks of me. I craft my daily plans to find success and avoid fear, rather than to display my trust in Him.

I end up making good choices on autopilot — good wife stuff, good mom stuff, good leader stuff — simply because I care about what other people think about me, and what I think about myself. I often do the right thing only because I feel like it’s the right thing to do.

In Romans chapter four, Paul teaches us that it’s the exact opposite of this behavior that makes us right with God. It was Abraham’s faith that made him holy — that set him on the right path — not his actions. He was made righteous by his trust in God before he ever did a single righteous thing. 

Abraham believed before he obeyed, and that’s why God called him His own. 

What does Jesus mean when He talks about storing up treasure?

Jesus once taught us about storing up treasures for yourself in heaven rather than on earth (Matthew 6:19-21). When we hear this verse, we most often think about money or possessions, and those are certainly valid examples. 

But there are other kinds of treasures we can store up here, too — our own goodness, our own strength, our own righteousness, our own wisdom. Our hearts eventually become a stash of all the stuff we can do instead of all that Jesus has done. 

We end up obeying without ever stopping to believe. 

And let’s face it: the world hands us a million “righteous” to-dos these days: striving, resting, organizing, exercising, volunteering, recycling, donating, clean-eating, latest-theory-parenting. There are good things that pundits and politicians tell us we should be doing, good things our family tells us we should be doing, good things that even the Bible tells us we should be doing. 

But checking off anything from this list without giving control and credit to Jesus – yes, even in the things scripture tells us to do – only packs self-treasure into the leaky vaults of our hearts. There, moths and rust and messy kids and messy relationships and exhaustion and death will always steal and destroy.  

Doing the right things without acknowledging Christ is like building a house, brick by heavy brick, that will be flattened when storms come, because it’s constructed on the sand of good ideas and best practices instead of the rock of Jesus’ unchanging goodness and love (Matthew 7:24-27). 

And even if our house isn’t leveled by some storm, we’ll spend all our energy trying to keep it standing. A life built on self-achievement instead of Christ’s achievements must constantly be justified and defended. It must be propped up and patched with hurry and trends and anxiety. We must keep crucifying ourselves to look perfect, because ultimately, it’s all a picture of us, not a portrait of God. 

If we continue to ignore God — to obey before we believe — we will eventually find ourselves wandering through room after spiritual room that is filled with ourselves and all our good things but is still so very empty, because our heart-space knows nothing of the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19).

Abraham chose the bold thing — the right thing. But he stepped out in obedience because he first trusted “in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead, and calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Romans 4:17). 

Abraham’s obedience revealed a miraculous God, not a motivated self.

Abraham’s obedience revealed a miraculous God, not a motivated self. 

Fortunately, the bricks for the life Jesus is asking you to build are light, because He’s already done the heavy lifting. The good news that Jesus took all our sin and gave us all His righteousness can be the foundation of our lists, our days, our lives. He became our Savior so He could become our ever-present brother and friend (Hebrews 2:11, John 15:12-15). 

If we stop ignoring God and start our obedience with the gospel, it changes everything. We are set free from presenting ourselves as perfect. We are set free from defending ourselves as right. We are set free from the pressure of doing good things — including writing Grace Magazine articles — all on our own. 

Our lives will become deeper in faith, formed in worship, and obedient in joy, because we’ll remember all the outcomes belong to Him:

“No unbelief made (Abraham) waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he promised (Romans‬ ‭4:20‬-21). 

To learn more about Finding Freedom in the book of Romans, visit a Grace Campus near you, or worship with us online every Sunday.

 

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