Posted by: Philip Rushton | January 26, 2015

Being ‘Moved’

After a compelling sermon or an inspiring movie we often speak of being ‘moved.’ We use this phrase to describe a deep emotional feeling. Being ‘moved’ implies that we are inspired, convicted, or released from anxiety or fear. I have had many experiences of being ‘moved’ in this way. I cherish the times when I am deeply impacted by God’s presence during a worship service.

However, I wonder if we have misappropriated this phrase. One of my mentors once said that if we are moved we should see movement. To be moved is a verb that implies action. What has happened, it seems, is that we have turned an action word into a feeling word.

During the sermon yesterday we looked at the story in Luke 4, where Jesus says that he has come to fulfill the promise to bring good news to the poor. After his sermon the audience is deeply ‘moved.’ The text says that they are ‘amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.’ Yet, by the end of the story they have rejected Jesus. When they start to realize the implications of his words, they are suddenly not as inspired. They realize that these gracious words are going to require them to sacrifice their own desires for the needs of others. The initial experience of being ‘moved,’ does not translate into movement.

If I am honest, I have to acknowledge that I often behave like these first disciples. This past month I have been convicted about how I often talk a good game about helping the poor but I have not been doing a lot to follow through with this conviction. This has caused me to carve out some space in the week to start doing some practical service for people in need. Like the disciples I think we struggle to bring conviction into alignment with action when we realize what it is going to cost us. Things like fear, greed, and selfish ambition quickly extinguish the spiritual fire in our hearts.

In order to bring our inspiration into alignment with action I think we need to redefine what spiritual maturity looks like. We have a tendency to associate spiritual maturity or fervor with seasons where we deeply feel the presence of God. For some of us, this seems to be the goal. We want to recover those deep spiritual experiences we had at camp, or during a meaningful worship service.

To be sure, these experiences are a gift. It is vital for us to have a close personal relationship with the living God. I hope you have a lot of ‘mountain top’ experiences! Our emotional encounter with God provides necessary inspiration to love and serve others. The image of ‘being moved,’ after all, implies that there is something beyond ourselves that is bringing about the movement. The other extreme we need to avoid is serving without inspiration. Action without love is equally out of balance.

However, the Gospel of Luke is going to continually challenge us to see that the evidence of spiritual fervor or spiritual maturity is found in how we actually live our lives. How we act and how we respond to the needs of others is a more accurate indicator of God’s presence in our lives.

As we are ‘moved’ by our encounters with the living God, let us consider how this actually moves us to serve.

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