Jesus saved some of his harshest words for the Pharisees. Jesus called the Pharisees whitewashed tombs that looked good on the outside but on the inside were full of death. The Pharisees would go through the motions of their faith without having any real desire to seek after God.
Sometimes I wrestle with this because sometimes I go through the motions.
When reading the gospels we like to see ourselves in the disciples or the crowds following Jesus, but more often than not I see myself in the Pharisees. Like them I am a religious leader who can sometimes get caught up in my own knowledge and abilities. Unlike them (hopefully), my faith is genuine and I don’t want to do anything to keep people from God.
Sometimes, though, I feel like I go through the motions of my faith. There are seasons when the fire in my heart isn’t burning as brightly. Instead of passionately pursuing God in all that I do, I treat my relationship with God like a lazy stroll – not really concerned with getting anywhere quickly.
When my passion is strong, my faith is a lot like a train blazing down the tracks. The engine is hot, the wheels are turning and the train is almost unstoppable.
When my passion is waning, the train is almost at a standstill, depending on whatever momentum it had to carry it a little further.
I start to go through the motions when my passion wanes and my train almost stops. Not because I want to pretend like I’m as passionate as I was, but because the motions can help jumpstart my passion.
I go through motions like spending time in prayer, reading God’s word and sitting silently before God. Even though my heart may not be fully committed to those disciplines, it’s my hope that they’ll reignite my passion.
I look at those spiritual disciplines as train tracks. Participating in the disciplines, going through the motions even though I don’t really feel like it, helps lay down the tracks. Then, as I lay down those tracks, I hope that my passion train will follow.
I don’t think the Pharisees were concerned about their passion train moving further down the tracks; they just wanted people to see their nice tracks. So even though we may sometimes go through the motions, if the intention is reigniting our faith, we won’t have to worry about Jesus calling us whitewashed tombs.
Our hearts can be in the right place even if they’re not as far down the tracks as we’d like them to be.
Have you ever gone through the motions to reignite your faith?