I recently have been speaking with a Christian who is a leader in his church. As I spoke I risked sharing that recently he looked (in the spirit realm) like he had lost his vital connection to Jesus. That he was drying from an empty well. That the vehicle had run out of fuel and he was sucking fumes. I was right.
We began talking about what he was planning to do to repair the situation and reverse the drift that had happened and was, in fact, continuing to happen (Hebrews 2:1 talks about drifting from the faith). His immediate response was that he was working to reestablish his devotional life – early morning prayer and Bible reading and whatever else he thought might help put his relationship with Jesus back on track, so to speak. To me, that is a religious answer. Most might not agree with me.
Why do I think it is a religious answer? Thanks for asking. Because to reestablish the structure in your life called “devotions” will not reconnect you with the Lord. And, it will not renew your passion for Jesus helping you to fall in love with Him once again. It can help in some ways after you have reconnected but it is not the way to reconnect. That devotional time has no intrinsic life of its own. It can’t give you what it does not have. It is simply a structure, a program, a way to do things. It is religion.
You have a relationship with your spouse. If the passion fades and you find yourself emotionally and even physically distant from one another, creating a structure will not rebuild the relationship. You could establish a structure called a date night and go out once a week and still not renew or kindle afresh the passion you once had. You need to relate, talk, share, discuss, even argue. Then as the relationship (that is the key word here) begins to gain some traction you can put the “new life” you are experiencing into the structure called a “date night.”
The Christian faith is a relationship between a person and God, through Jesus Christ, shared with other believers called the Church. If the relationship has faded and you have drifted then creating a structure will not rekindle your relationship. You need to simply work on your relationship until the love returns and then whatever structure you should need – like a date night or a devotional time – can come alongside the “life” you are once again experiencing and support and encourage that life. The structure called “devotions” cannot and will not bring back your love for Jesus.
The Church and her traditions are lifeless without the presence and power of God. However, we go out and build the structure – the organization, the charter, the legal documents, the network association, the statement of faith. Then we open the doors and hope that the Lord will meet us in the first and every consecutive service forever and ever. That is religion and there is really no life. Instead, we should gather as a few believers and experience His life together as we meet. Then, if structure is needed to maintain and enough the life we are experiencing, then add some structure. But only that which encourages and releases the life we are experiencing, His life, so that others can join us in our fellowship.
This is best seen in the conception of a child. When a child is conceived in his or her mother’s womb there is no visible structure. There is only life – a blob of life. But, as that life grows we see structure forming – arms, hands, feet, legs, a neck. The structure is there to support and encourage the life. It is the life that is most important, not the structure. And, when the baby is born we remove the structure that is no longer helping the life to grow… the umbilical cord. Life is what is important, not structure.
The same is true for the local church. The same is true for your relationship with the Lord. Get the love back into the relationship – let Him breathe life into it once again – and then add only whatever minimal structure is needed to encourage that life to continue, to grow, and to touch others. You may even call that structure “devotions.”