It is so easy to let our body distract us from our soul.
There are always so many things on our mind, to be done, dreams, desires, thoughts, relationships, things which are concrete and urgent--so many that our soul and its spiritual life is reduced to mere maintenance.
It becomes another responsibility among a list of others, another thing to try to balance along with everything else. Knowing it's the most important one--yet it's not URGENT like the others--trying, guiltily, not to let it slip as you target the other more clamorous responsibilities.
And the phrase 'Christian living' is reduced to a list of actions to incorporate into our lives. We're too busy to cope with vague, hard-to-define issues about our heart, though that's really the root of the matter. It takes time and effort and thought, and--worst of all to a busy schedule--it almost always includes feels. Not the most conducive for efficiency.
It's much easier instead to reduce Christian living to a literal meaning, shrink it to a pragmatic, hands-on to-do list we can tackle like any other task:
1. Get my devotions done everyday.
2. Squeeze in a respectable block of time for prayer.
3. Try to listen to the sermon every Sunday.
4. Post Bible verses on social media when I feel depressed.
5. Being polite and nice to the people around me because that's witnessing, right?
Tick. Tick. Tick. I have successfully lived like a Christian.
What has happened, instead, is that my spiritual life has degenerated into another ball, a ball vaguely labeled 'Christian living', which I'm trying to juggle along with everything else.
I know that my life should be different as a child of God.
But we're so busy that we can't afford 'different' to be anything more complicated than a list of things to DO, simpler, more mindless. Tick the box, or at least try to, without wasting much thought.
Thanks to Search the Scriptures, I gleaned some little gems from 1 Peter 1:13-2:3 which woke me up to this and helped me think more about how I should be better defining 'Christian living'.
The changes or new standards that should characterize our daily living as Christians, as you gather from the passage:
1. God as priority
2. Christ as our first love and ultimate motivation
3. constant, active, purposeful dying to sin/self
4. pure, sincere, sacrificial love for others
Now, these are neither abstract concepts--like the beautiful but vague phrase 'glorifying God'--nor mindless actions that can be just ticked by doing something--like the completely practical 'go to prayer meeting.'
They are balanced delicately somewhere in between by being non-specific, yet invoking ideas of practical application, and that's exactly why I found them helpful.
God as priority--I knew immediately this wasn't always the case. Me. My schedule, my list of boxes to tick. Or other people. And almost immediately after I had admitted this it was quite clear why peace was lacking...I was busying myself with things which had no end, no solution, because they and me were imperfect. Once again, I was missing the center of it all. *cue Chris August music: The Center of It*
But it was also practical: I had to redeem my relationship with God, stop treating it like a little routine of boxes to tick; He would naturally become my priority once I saw Him as He was and related to Him as I ought.
Christ as our first love and ultimate motivation--Again, this was clearly not the case, though it was something I desired. Love of self, love of all the little idols in my life. Motivation of pride, people, greed.
I had to change my motivations to improve both the process and product of doing. Again, I needed to refresh my love for Christ and appreciation of what He had done for me.
constant, active, purposeful dying to sin/self--This made me see that active fighting against sin should be a constant characteristic of my life, not just an occasion struggle. I should always be on the look-out on the habits, feelings, tastes I develop, examining whether they glorify God or gratify myself. Sin should be something I'm always aware of--keeping me humble and watchful. A vigilant conscience means a healthy soul. If I hadn't experienced any struggles with temptation for a while it could mean desensitizing of the conscience, a cooling love for Christ, or just plain laziness and pride.
pure, sincere, sacrificial love for others-- Here, I realized that my love for others, while it could be pure, or sincere, was seldom sacrificial. Yes, I truly did care for them...but to be absolutely honest when it came to the toss-up ME was the weighted side of the coin. Whenever this incomplete love came to the test it shrunk back at the idea of having to lose something, to step out of a comfort zone, to share something I still wanted more of. Suddenly my eyes were opened to the incompleteness of my love for others, and I was stripped of my complacency in this area. My love was there, all right, but it was a soft, cushy, flimsy love, like cotton candy, which is all very well when you're at a party or carnival but isn't much use when you're starving on a desert island.
Unlike Christ's love.
A love which meets all our needs as well as all our dreams and desires.
A love which is so deep we keep on discovering that it gets better and better.
A love which is so beautiful and so perfect that it can transform ugly and imperfect loves like ours, to reflect its loveliness.
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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