Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Unity in practice as well as purpose

As Christians, we can have the tendency to compartmentalize our faith-lives, placing worship, Bible study, prayer, loving God and even loving others into slots that we attend to separately. I have never gotten a sense, from reading the gospels, that Jesus did this. He just seemed to live His life and His faith as one fluid movement. Certainly, he took time apart to pray and spend time with God, but it seems to me that these were a continuation of His constant connection to God, not a beginning of something that He had stopped. In other words, He moved apart from the crowds to continue His on-going communion with God in a more focused, private way. This is much in the same way as a married couple will slip away from the children to discuss an issue privately.

It is important that we be aware of this , because ultimately our Christianity is who we are, not what we do. A Christian is one who follows Jesus, but following Jesus is not simply a series of actions. It involves a complete transformation of our hearts and minds, creating Christ-followers where once there were none. When I became a Christian, I knew that I needed much more than a set of rules to govern my behavior. Of course, I understood that if I could behave differently, my life would be better. But I was absolutely incapable of behaving differently on a sustained basis. I knew this about myself. I needed a spiritual transformation, a new heart, a new mind, not a do-over but something new that had never been before. This newness was rooted in love, the love of God for me, and my love for Him. I found that I was not only willing but also able to do things for the love of Jesus that I would never have done otherwise. I was able to see truths that had always escaped me, truths about God, the world both temporal and eternal, and the truth about myself and who I was.

When we put worship and prayer in little slots, with times and places appointed, and never take them out, we run the risk of making loving God a task rather than a passion. Worship is loving God and acknowledging Him as Lord. It is to be a constant in the Christian life. God has been graciously clear on the ways that He experiences our worship, and not all of them happen within a temple or church building, or at an altar. When we listen patiently to a difficult child because we know it pleases God, when we offer to meet the physical needs of another because we trust in God's care for us, when we submit to earthly authority because we believe that in doing so we are submitting to God, when we fully enjoy the wonder of God's creation in a family pet or a natural wonder because we know that God's creative and powerful nature is revealed in the work of His hands...we worship God through the passion of a daily relationship with Him.

Of course, there are times when we need to come apart to be alone with God. In our media-soaked, hyper-busy world, we get less and less time to spend alone in our own heads. Some of us don't even have room for our own thoughts up there, and instead fill our minds with sound-bites from Twitter and Facebook. We adopt these thoughts without even stopping to see if we actually believe them, let alone if they are true in the Light of God's Word. We need to make sure that we don't allow our minds to become so cluttered because, after all, we spent our time with God earlier in the day. Meeting with God should not be a returning to a place that we left yesterday morning after our devotions. It should be a continuation of a journey that we never want to leave again. Devotion time is God taking our hand and pulling us off to a side room to be alone with us, after which we walk back into the world with Him enriched, strengthened, and maybe occasionally grinning shyly at Him in memory of the sweet words, wondrous truths and gentle directions He shared with us.

1 comment:

Sandy said...

Oh Kelly, I just caught up on reading your blog and all I can say is AMEN!! I love you and I sooo appreciate the gift that God has given you to communicate His truths through your writing! You are such a blessing, your words always challenge, and encourage, me in my walk with our Lord! xoxo

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