Losing our follow through between what we say before God at the altar, and when we walk out that door on after listening to the Sunday morning sermon, and into the real world of another working week, can seem very unlikely, yet at times, Christians do just that. Not that I’m calling anyone out on that (I know I can sometimes be guilty of this as well), but let’s just all be honest and frank about this topic- what does it mean for us to lose our follow-through, to promise something and for us to travel a 180° and act completely opposite to what people see us on Sundays? What does it look like, for us and for the people observing our behaviours, to know that our behaviour on our best days isn’t what we portray on an almost daily basis? What does it need to take for God to shake us and wake us, for Him to remind us that we don’t need to place on a brave face, that our follow-through and our word to Him is based on really, whether we believe that God is who He says He is, and whether we believe in His promises or not. Because to put things bluntly- for us to say one thing yet act out another is nothing short of us not really believing in God’s promises in the first place. Because if we’d truly believe what He calls us to be and become, the positive change we’d experience and people would see would be more 24/7 rather than 1 day a week.
I know, harsh statements, for most of the paragraph above. Yet these things have been conjuring up in my mind of late. And though I haven’t been to church in a while because of work, I still have been reminded by God of what it means for us to truly abandon ourselves and to not worry about those around us, to follow whole-heartedly and run after our Father. Because when everything is said and done, we need to remember. That how we act and what we actually do carries more weight than what our lips profess. We can say we love Christ till the cows come home, and I know it’s great that we say that we do love Christ. But if that’s all we’re saying, and our lives aren’t reflecting the change we so fervently profess we have, then what are our words really meaning? If we really want to change and affect the world with positive change, than somewhere between the altar and the door, we need to figure out what, or who, is changing our minds, making us less on fire for God, making us less zealous, less hungry to impact people with God’s love. Because that’s in affect what is happening between our lips and our hearts. What we say isn’t connecting up with what we are really doing because somewhere along the way, we’ve bought into the lie that the impact that we make isn’t enough to change the world we live in.
And it’s right, the impact we make alone isn’t enough. Yet nevertheless, as Christ’s children and vessels of His love, we ought to try to make an impact anyway, no matter how small. What we see and the pictures of the future we have is only minute and miniscule compared to the grand tapestry and design our Father in heaven has in store for us. What we see is only part of the picture, yet often at times, because of the busyness of life, we can forget. Forget the promises of God and His mercies on us. Forget that His plans for us far outweigh and exceed what we can ever conjure. To lose our follow through doesn’t always mean that we forget to pray, or even become less ‘holy’. Often the busyness of life brings with it stress, worry, doubt, uncertainty, and even questioning whether God has our best interests at heart. Between the altar and the door can mean a lot of different things for different people. Which is why I reckon Casting Crown’s album of the same name (released in 2007) is a great album to listen to, for people who seem to struggle with the issue, of why- why it is so easily to connect with God and make all these promises to Him when we’re inside the church building, and near impossible when we’re facing real life?
Possibly one of the band’s most underrated albums ever, The Altar and the Door, and especially the title track, unpack a lot of themes for us to discover. From grappling with the truth of how far God casts our sins (from the east to the west and then back again) to the slow slide from being happily married to falling into temptation, lust and cheating; it has been the theme expressed through the title track that has really hit hard for me. There seems to be a conundrum amongst the human race, that between when we profess something (whether it be in a physical church, or whether we make a vow, a commitment, or the like), to when it’s time to really live it out, things go awry. More often than not, what we say and what we do seem to be poles apart, and while many of my message Mondays posts seem to have a somewhat definite answer by the end of it, this one seems to have a lack of any answers. I am still at a loss about what we as Christians should do about this issue. What can we do as committed Christians to try to make sure that our follow-through isn’t what hinders people from following Christ in the first place?
Maybe we’re trying too hard and all we need to do is just be at the feet of Jesus and everything else will fall into place. Maybe we just need to run to Jesus, with all our faults and failures, and watch God use whatever we bring Him to shape us into much more astute, aware, encouraging and emotive individuals. Whatever the case, The Altar and the Door has done a great job, in my life, to bring such issues to the fore. Sure the album is close to 10 years old, yet what seemingly is old is in the same breath timeless. Except for “East To West”, this album and its songs seemingly are by-passed at live Casting Crowns concerts, which is a shame- this 2007 album, while overlooked, is my favourite album from the band, not because of technicalities or the theological truths surrounded with the album, but because of the sentimental nature of it. Sometimes albums don’t necessarily need to be 100% in a technical sense for it to impact your life. They just need to be real, authentic, honest, and everything else in between. The Altar and the Door was like that for me, and in turn, its theme became the theme of this blog post. While I myself may not have all the answers as to why some people’s follow-through is ok between the altar and the door, and others aren’t, yet hopefully Casting Crowns and their 2007 album can remind us all that we’re all in this struggle together.
Which album, like Casting Crowns’ album for me, has impacted you over these last decade or so? Has there been an instance where your follow-through has shattered from the altar to the door? Have you ever called someone else out because of that, or been called out yourself by our fellow brothers/sisters in Christ? Let us know in the comments (…or not). Til next time.