Thursday, January 31, 2013

From the Preacher Man: Could we use a little more piety?



            I am a young fundamentalist. I make no excuse for using the term, but understand the unfortunate "side effects" that come with the title. Too many within our movement have been associated with legalistic, standards-based, action-emphasized Christianity. We win the lost with a zeal that many within broader evangelicalism lack, and have a burning desire to see the world come to know Christ, but too often introduce new converts to a new way of living rather than an intimate relationship with the Lord of the universe. 

As I have looked around at many churches today, I have become deeply concerned with a lack of piety within our churches, and within the lives of believers. But wait, isn't the behavior that I described above a definition of piety? 

Let's think for a minute about piety. Webster defined someone who is pious as:  "1. Godly; reverencing and honoring the Supreme Being in heart and in the practice of the duties he has enjoined; having due veneration and affection for the character of God, and habitually obeying his commands; religious; devoted to the service of God; applied to persons. 2. Dictated by reverence to God; proceeding from piety; applied to things; as pious awe; pious services of affections; pious sorrow."
 
            Think about what piety is- if I could put it into a brief, pithy saying that anyone could remember, I think I would describe it as "Inward holiness lived out in actions and attitudes." We find it so easy to "work to advance the cause of Christ." That keeps the spotlight external. We shine it on our neighbors, coworkers, and even fellow church members (for those who have the "spiritual gift" of correction), and that serves to keep the light off of our own pets sins and spiritual weaknesses. See, that is where we have crossed over into the land of the Pharisee. We have tried to cover a lack of holiness with a personal vigor in doing all the right things, and looking exactly the right way. That is not piety, but an inside out view of what genuine holiness is.

            See, piety begins within. It starts with my daily quiet time- reading, meditating on, and memorizing the Word of God. It carries over into my prayer time, as I give my Lord adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. Through that process, my life is slowly changed from the inside out, and my actions and attitudes are affected. Those areas of weakness in my own life are exposed and I am forced to grow in them, shoring up the armor that covers them and protects me from spiritual attack. I have the mind of Christ, and it is revealed in what I say and how I say it. The rough edges of my life begin to smooth out, my Sunday worship gains a passion and emotion that is not generated externally (by music or other means), but comes from the overflow of devotion within my own heart. This is piety, and it changes every area of a person's life. 

            Will you help in bucking the trend that so many of us have fallen for? Let's do right- but let's have our actions flow out of a truly genuine piety. Get in the Word, fall in love with your Lord all over again, develop a prayer life that is vibrant, and then shock your pastor Sunday morning by singing passionately, graciously handling everyone around you, and maybe even throwing a few "amens" in during the message, just to let him know you're still awake!

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