My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.
Ezekiel 33:31-32 (NIV)
In this passage, God tells Ezekiel that people aren’t going to listen to his messages of rebuke and repentance. They are eager to listen to the message though. They even speak of love for God but nothing affects their hearts. Their hearts are still “greedy for unjust gain”. Their lives are still a mess but they aren’t bothered to put any of God’s words into practice. Ezekiel’s message is likened to a good singer belting out a beautiful tune that brings tears to the audience’s eyes. But they walk away unchanged.
Today, this problem still occurs. I call them the Christian atheist. Let me define it. An atheist is one who doesn’t believe in God and lives as if God wasn’t present. But a Christian atheist is one who believes in God but lives as if God wasn’t present. There is a disconnect between the mind and the heart.
Much like Ezekiel’s audience, Christian atheists go to church, they sing praises to God with unbridled emotions, they say “I love you God” but their lives are no better than a non-Christian. You can recognise them by their fruits. A bad tree bears bad fruit. Some examples:
- Randy leads a youth Bible group study in the day but delves in pornography at night.
- Sandra sings on the worship team but sleeps with her boyfriend on weekends.
- Lionel gives tithes generously to church but doesn’t give a needy relative a cent.
- Marie is hospitable to newcomers in church but abuses her maid at home.
- Victor says he surrenders his whole life to God, but doesn’t dare to give his job to go into full-time ministry.
See the disconnect? We can confess the Apostle Creed or Nicene Creed without displaying God’s character. The only way is to put what we hear into practice. That is the key to growing in our faith. Just like Jesus’s parable on the Wise and Foolish builders, the secret to weathering the storms of life is to build it on the word of God. The next time we hear a sermon, ask God to show you ONE thing to put into practice that week. If we just faithfully do ONE thing consistently, our life can be transformed.