God's people in 2 Chronicles had to prepare themselves for battle, dress in their battle clothes, strap on their swords, and go out to the battlefield, even though God told them they would not have to fight once they got there. And they did exactly as God commanded them to do - they prepared for battle but kept their swords sheathed - and something incredible happened: God did what He had told them He would do - He fought for them.
Yesterday, as we looked at this story, we began to look also at how different this faithfulness was from our own brand of largely unfaithful faith, the kind of religion that decides that if God is going to fight for us, there's no reason to even get dressed. Just, you know, let God do His thing.
It is precisely this kind of dangerous theology that hallmarks much of what passes as Christianity today. A very small minority of Christians (and here, we are talking about Western Christians, first-world Christians) will prepare themselves for battle after God tells them they will not have to fight. A smaller minority still will even ask God about the battle in the first place, with most just assuming that God fights without our knowing it, so there is no reason to ask.
It's invaded almost everything we do as those who claim to be a people of God.
For example, a great number of Christians think it entirely unnecessary to pray. God is God, and He will do whatever it is that He will do, and He doesn't really need our input. He knows what we want, knows what we need, and knows what He wills, so what's the point in praying at all? We don't have to pray to be a people of God; we just have to attribute anything and everything to His hand. And then, you know, He'll know that we love Him or trust Him or something.
A great number of Christians think it entirely unnecessary to read their Bibles. That God of the Bible, He's so old-school. They've heard the teachings that God is doing a new thing among them (and they don't recognize even this as Scripture), and so all of the "old" things of God don't matter any more. They just have to live with their eyes open and give God the credit for whatever He's doing whenever they see it, and they're good. God is writing a new story, still His own story, in their own time; no need for His Word. And so we come to a place where we're just attributing everything to God, whether it's holy or not, whether it's consistent with His character or not, and then calling ourselves God's people like we know Him.
An increasing number of Christians think it entirely unnecessary to go to church. The church, they rightly recognize, is full of flawed people, and they don't really want flawed people; they want a perfect God. You hear them say things like, "I connect with God better in the woods by myself" or "I have church wherever I go because God is with me." That's great, but that's not what church is for. Church is for the connecting and the building up of God's community. You can't do that on your own in the woods. You can't do that wherever you go. It's an intentional thing, one that God has called His people to engage in on purpose. But a lot of Christians these days think that God is more interested in persons than in peoples, that He will build up His church one by one instead of all together. That whatever God is doing inside the walls of our sanctuaries, He is also doing inside the walls of our own hearts, so it doesn't matter where we go or how we do it; God is doing it, with and without us.
See, our contemporary Christianity acknowledges God, then largely ignores Him, failing to engage in even the most basic spiritual disciplines or commands of God for His people because hey, He's God. He doesn't need us to do anything; He only needs us to believe that He's doing things. And we do believe that, even if we don't understand it. How could we understand it? We no longer find it necessary to engage with Him at all while He does, you know, His "God" stuff.
And then we wonder why our faith is so unfulfilling. And then we wonder why we never see God do anything cool. And then we wonder why we're so often grasping at straws to explain this God we hardly know even is when others ask about Him.
And then we wonder why we're people of faith at all, since God doesn't really even need us. He's going to do whatever He's going to do whether we're present for it or not, so what's the point? What's the use? Why the faith?
And then all of a sudden, we make our very first move...and we walk away, having never truly known Him at all.