You and I cannot follow Jesus with one foot and our adversary and the principles of the world with the other.
Recently, on a cross-country RV trip, I discovered something new about parking overnight in campgrounds. Each evening, our RV was assigned a specific camping site equipped with water, electric, and sewer hookups that fit our unique vehicle. When we stopped for the night, we found our site number, parked, and connected to our assigned utilities. We found everything we needed in that spot. We weren't allowed to park sideways with the front tires in our designated space and the rear tires in another. We had to use the water, power, and sewer in our assigned spot—not those for the place next to us.
What does this have to do with Christian discipleship? Everything—if we understand the lesson of RV campsites.
A disciple follows God passionately from one position—we draw all life and power from Him. You and I resolve the messiness of life and its struggles with Him and His people. We don't split our devotion in two. You and I cannot follow Jesus with one foot and our adversary and the principles of the world with the other. When we attempt to find life and power in places of death—a lot of stinking waste spills out. The spilled sewage reeks—contaminating both camping spots.
Exactly how do we justify this unholy compromise? How do we explain parking in two different spaces to ourselves?
It's simple: we rationalize from the deep well of relativism. With a desire to look better compared to others, you and I carefully craft a "spiritual avatar" that looks good on the outside. We tell ourselves that we aren't doing anything "too bad" and concern ourselves with avoiding committing any major sins. Preoccupied with our image and status, we try to sidestep blatant "sins of commission" that lead to guilt, shame, and exposure.
Meanwhile, our hearts remain far from Him. The sewage of our "stinkin' thinking" backs up inside us—along with things like jealousy, hypocrisy, hatred, and selfish ambition. When we focus on image management by avoiding obvious "sins of commission," we miss the heart of Jesus and the leadership of the Holy Spirit. When our primary concerns revolve around maintaining our status and avatar, we fail to cooperate with the transforming work of Christ. This refusal to engage with God is a "sin of omission." We omit His presence, life, and power from our lives.
Want an example? Even though the Pharisees scrupulously tithed a tenth of their earnings, they ignored more substantive issues like justice, mercy, and faith as they connected with others. The Lord rebuked them for this behavior. Loving our neighbor means much more. By focusing on external appearances of righteousness (their avatar), the Pharisees fell prey to sins of omission. This sin of commission/omission trap has been around for thousands of years. It is no wonder that we fall into the same error.
I think God is concerned about this dichotomy, don't you? Is our tendency to avoid sins of commission while diving into sins of omission offensive to Him, or does He simply overlook the problem as part of the understandable human condition? The book of Zephaniah is instructive.
In Chapter 1 of Zephaniah, God warns the people that following Him while simultaneously worshipping idols and other gods will bring calamity. He is outraged by the public worship of Baal and Molech. He is also angry about the reverence for false gods occurring in private, individual households. God condemned detestable practices like child sacrifice, ritual prostitution, and self-mutilation. All these "sins of commission" will bring disaster.
Then in verse six, God shockingly lumps the "sins of omission" in the same category as child sacrifice. He promises catastrophe and destruction will come to those who "draw back from the Lord, and who have not sought the Lord, nor asked for Him." While this evil doesn't seem to be as grotesque as child sacrifice, these sins of omission are every bit as perverse to God.
Commentators generally agree that God is referring to His people who once seemed to have a relationship with Him and then backslid. The passage also deals with people who do not seek Him, inquire of Him, or ask Him about their issues in life. They are God's followers in name only. Like someone wanting to occupy two RV spots, these people seek life and power from two sources. While perhaps they avoid the worship of false gods, their "sins of omission" will lead to the same destruction as those who actively pursue false gods. This lifestyle of lukewarmness makes Jesus sick to His stomach. (Rev 3:16).
Is seeking God an integral life priority? Do you and I consistently seek, inquire, or ask God about the issues of daily living? Are we keeping God on our life's periphery, or are we all in—following Him with both feet in the same direction? According to Zephaniah, God doesn't distinguish between open rebellion and routine indifference. In the end, we will reap what we've sown (Gal 6:7-8).
We can learn from the lesson of the RV. Since we can't occupy two parking spots and draw life from them simultaneously, let's fill the place God has reserved for us—His Heart—and avoid those painful splits and nasty sewage spills!