The motions were perfect. The little eyes were on the judges. The hands were perfect. The tiny little troup had practiced and practiced. Little darling faces and costumes were icing on the cake.
Another older group was just as noticeable in their performance. Outstretched arms and hands were at the perfect angles. The gazes of each member were to an unknown but common spot in the sky. The photo captured the perfection, and it was down to the posture of the each member.
Group after group performed in similar fashion. To judge the best took a panel of professionals, because groups are often that close to perfect. They were all winners, and they won the hearts of the audience time after time.
So it is with religion. The outward practice can seem perfect. The unison of voices, the greased steps to lay out a dinner for fellowship, and even the perfected steps to perform a service to others are often flawless. Worship can be smooth and professional.
But what good does it do when the pastor’s daughter is stone-faced, the deacon has wrongly placed affections toward someone other than his wife, the steady worker goes home and weeps because of the lack of peace, and the adolescent, though constantly attending youth groups, questions whether life is worth living? Religion can be mimicked.
So can life be mimicked as people wander with activities on and offline. They can soak up hour after month after year, yet they have no peace. Lives like this face a dilemma, because the outward practices that seem so fine are a direct contrast to the distant heart. All of these scenes have one thing in common: a distance from their Creator that begins in the heart.
His cry today is the same as it has always been:
“Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke…my yoke is easy, my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
The message of the life of Christ in people, which is the message of the Gospel, remains constant: it is a work that starts deep inside as we choose to come to Him. No outward practice, no matter how perfect, will suffice to bring His life. It must be chosen, yielded to, and walked out. His security system is perfect. No outward practice will pass the test, because He aims to put light within that shines out. Outward things do not shine but a moment, and yield no peace in the long term. His light, in contrast, changes things from within and puts purpose and heart in the outward practice.
Which life do you really want? His life is perfect and starts at the heart. None other compares.