“Will it play in Peoria?” This uniquely American idiom recognizes a new act, event or product may or may not appeal across a broad populace. For one reason or another, many well-conceived ideas fizzle in Anytown, USA. So, let’s ask ourselves, “Will ‘Godliness’ play in Peoria today?” More to the point, does this character trait remain relevant in our culture? It depends…
Is this godliness we speak of merely an “act” in which we try to appear different than we are? Is this the kind that lives life “on stage,” visible yet safely separated from an onlooking humanity? Are we forcing stilted, rehearsed lines when real life calls for an engaging ad lib? If this is the godliness we present, we play to an empty theatre and an audience of one.
True godliness is not a staged performance of our production, but the genuine outcome of inspired transformation. It is the welcomed work of the Holy Spirit in the life of one awakened to the truth that God is real—that He is who He says He is, His promises are true, and His love immeasurable. We applaud His ways, so much better than ours, and we choose them. The thoughts from His heights stir in our depths, and we cheer with changed lives. He develops our character, not instantaneously, but over time; not forcibly, but naturally, through the power of His Spirit. We change, we grow, and it shows.
Now, some may pan devotion to God; in fact, the apostle Paul promises, “All who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”1 Such is the price of our passion. But people know “real” when they see it, and for many, true godliness—a life given to God in joy over His life given for us—is the evidence of hope to a “standing room only” crowd desperately searching for it.
Is godliness relevant today? Do you see the lights flickering for an encore?
Father, our world needs you, and we know it. Grace us, your people, to leave our ways behind and to walk in yours, so that others will see the light of Christ and find new life in Him. In His name we pray. Amen.
1 2 Timothy 3:12