Jesus Decoys—Your Albatross of Spiritual Disciplines

Jesus Decoys—Your Albatross of Spiritual Disciplines

by Wayne Stiles

I never thought an albatross would challenge my relationship with God. This one sure did.

Researchers placed 100 decoys on an island to attract endangered albatrosses and to encourage them to breed. But one albatross missed the message.

Starr 080605 6559 Tribulus cistoides Jesus Decoys—Your Albatross of Spiritual Disciplines

Photo: by Forest & Kim Starr (CC-BY-3.0), via Wikimedia Commons.

This albatross attempted to woo a wooden decoy by building a tidy nest and fighting off rivals. For more than two years, this albatross stood by the decoy.

“He seems to have no desire to date real birds,” one of the researchers observed.

After reading this story, several activities came to mind—like Bible study, prayer, and fellowship with others.

All spiritual disciplines. All potential decoys.

Jesus Decoys in Our Lives

When it comes to a relationship with Jesus, it’s always a lot easier to court the decoys. After all,

  • Decoys demand nothing from us.
  • They never argue.
  • They’re great listeners.
  • They won’t leave us.
  • They don’t retaliate when we kick them.

The downside of courting decoys? They aren’t real.

Starr 080605 6561 Phoebastria immutabilis Jesus Decoys—Your Albatross of Spiritual Disciplines

Photo: by Forest & Kim Starr (CC-BY-3.0), via Wikimedia Commons.

Our Jesus decoys look Christian. They often are, in fact, biblical commands and spiritual disciplines. I’ve already mentioned a few—likeBible studyprayer, and fellowship. Here are other favorites:

  • Visiting the sick.
  • Giving money.
  • Taking communion.
  • Serving in an area you know to be God’s will. (This is the tough one for me.)

Now obviously, none of these spiritual disciplines are bad. It’s just that they’re not the goal. Like the albatross decoy, the purpose of these activities is to get us to engage with the real thing. Not to sit with the decoys.

Removing Our Albatross and Engaging the Real Thing

Spiritual disciplines can become an albatross around our necks if they are the goal.

That’s why (for me) pursuing the will of God is a tempting decoy from pursuing Jesus Himself. One should serve the other—never substitute for it.

“Idolatry is worshipping anything that ought to be used, or using anything that is meant to be worshiped.” —Augustine

Spiritual disciplines are the means to know Jesus. They are our expressions of love to Him. They serve to glorify and honor Him.

Him . . . HIM . . . HIM!

Decoys, on the other hand, are all about me. And you.

What’s on your calendar today? Think for a moment beyond the activities you’ll do to the reasons you do them. Sometimes all it takes to remove the albatross of spiritual disciplines—and to replace the Jesus decoys for the real Jesus—is to evaluate our motives.

Question: What other Jesus decoys do you see in our lives?

Bonus: Here are 2 resources on spiritual disciplines:

  1. So, You Want to Be Like Christ? by Charles R. Swindoll. Great book in softcover or Kindle editions.
  2. “How to Grow as a Christian” – My sermon series on spiritual disciplines, listed here.

About ptl2010

Jesus Christ is coming soon

4 Responses to Jesus Decoys—Your Albatross of Spiritual Disciplines

  1. ptl2010 says:

    One decoy which comes to mind (for me) is blogging – do I give God the glory or expect to receive glory from readers? I must never forget – He must increase and I decrease.

  2. Great analogy with a number of lessons. I agree with what Mike says in his comment, and I also need to keep a watch on my motives. Anything not done to exalt Christ is better not done.

  3. 4hispraise says:

    Wayne, What a creative and compelling post! Goood job. milt

  4. mtsweat says:

    This is a fantastic and rewarding piece of work good friend. Hanging a little longer with a topic you’ve already hit upon, I like your approach as to our ability to worship the Bible rather than the God of the Bible. I, for one, have been guilty of reading the Word, yet not allowing God to change me through His Word. We even find it in ourselves to feel good about our efforts to regularly read from it, but reject its transforming power when we walk away from what we read without being changed. It becomes a decoy.

    An example… when Jesus commands us to love our enemies, and we read and hear Him say this, then walk away without loving them, we are also guilty of neglecting His words, “Why do you call Me Lord, but not do the things I say.”

    Great piece. Thanks for sharing.

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