“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, . . . put off your old self. . . . and be renewed in the spirit of your minds . . . “Ephesians 4:17-24
When I was a young student, every class day would begin with our reciting the United States’ Pledge of Allegiance. We said it every day, and then we’d sing a patriotic hymn of our teacher’s choosing.
The words we spoke or sung fell easily from our lips, because we had said or sung them over and over again . . . for years.
We were learning what it meant to be an American.
But it wasn’t always that way.
There was a day when I didn’t know the Pledge: I didn’t know the patriotic hymns of our country, and I had to be taught. My teacher had to teach them to me, and she used repetition, every day, until I could recite or sing these on my own.
Even now, the cadence of reciting the pledge mimics the starts and stops my teacher used to teach it.
I can still hear it: it went like this:
(I pledge allegiance) “I pledge allegiance…”
(to the flag) “To the flag…”
(of the United States of America) “Of the United States of America… “
We were children, taking small bites of important truths, three or four words at a time, until the entire piece became our own and the entire truth became our own.
At the time, honestly, the true impact of these truths escaped us, but over time, the words began to grow in meaning as we grew in understanding.
With repetition it became clearer that our nation was a group of people who chose, everyday, to believe in something greater than one person.
Without these truths and their unifying effects, our nation’s heart would grow blurry and weak in times of national crisis. Our people, for lack of a common passion, would likely forgo the selfless acts of courage necessary for personal freedom.
Competing ideas would rush in to fill our vision: some unfriendly to justice or the welfare of the common man.
Without our rehearsal and embracing of a common understanding of who we are as a nation, our capacity to keep it could be lost to a sleepy, half-truth of liberty.
. . . all the foundations of the American experiment would crack under the weight of lies.
As students, we needed to learn the true ways of our freedom, but we needed trustworthy teachers to help us.
Because of their help and our effort, the Pledge comes to mind effortlessly now.
We need the same kind of approach and teacher in Kingdom living.
Each day we wake, we need to remember, rehearse and hold before our minds the great truths of God: His rule and reign in our lives.
- We need to remember who He is and who He is not.
- We need to rehearse the truth of His vital presence all around and within us.
- We need to seek, depend and act upon His power against sin.
- We need to remember His great love and his continual action and work in the deep recesses of our circumstances.
The Holy Spirit brings these things to mind and memory, if we have committed them there, and we are once again, students.
I find that when I don’t routinely review and rehearse the true ways of God, the crush of life rewrites my faith in a version that is distorted and false. God becomes an aberration of my mind . . . a reluctant apparition draped in dread and accusations.
He becomes something He is not, and that something is always less than His great Name allows or my life needs.
Without my reliance on the Truth of God, in the Word of God, I find myself depending upon an idea of Him that I create, and it always disappoints me.
Multiply this forward in time without the daily touch-back to God’s word as a corrective measure, and I can actually start to believe that God is truly who I have mistaken him to be: distant, cruel, angry, unfeeling, unable, unwilling.
. . . and all the foundations of Kingdom living begin to crack under the weight of lies.
We need the True Ways.
We need a Teacher to remind us who we are and who He is.
We need to read, rehearse and adopt the truths of Scripture.
We need to be with other believers to give and take in mutual discovery.
We need to rehearse the true ways of the King to push from our minds the darkness of lies.
We need to partner with Him as a trusted teacher.
It can sound like this:
(Come to me…) “Come to me,”
(all who labor and are heavy laden,) “All who labor and are heavy laden…”
(and I will give you rest.) “And you will give me rest…”
(Take my yoke upon you,) “I take your yoke…”
(and learn from me,) “I learn from you…”
(for I am gentle and lowly in heart,) “For you are gentle and lowly in heart…”
(and you will find rest for your souls.) “And I will find rest for my soul…”
(For my yoke is easy,) “Your yoke is easy…”
(and my burden is light.) “And your burden is light.”*
“Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.” Psalms 31:19-20