So, in my last post, I started talking about, given the evidence, Light & Easy Christianity sometimes seems like a paradox.
I left off quoting Matthew 11.29 in The Message. “Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
As I said, there is so much about that statement that is beautiful.
You see, God’s been showing me lately how he wants to teach me things by getting me to LIVE them, to PRACTICE them, not just to talk about them or try to understand concepts with my head. He wants me to learn lessons with my heart – He wants to mold me into something awesome, and He’s not going to do it while I stand passive – He’s going to take me to different situations and help the lessons I learn become a part of my being, not just a part of my “beliefs.”
I just love the line “Walk with me & work with me” – it’s so much like the invitation that Jesus gave his disciples when he first called them – He called them to follow him – He SHOWED them his heart by living and working with them, and then he sent them out so they could do it themselves. These guys weren’t perfect yet – one was going to betray him, one was going to deny him… and those are just the big flaws that made the book. They weren’t perfect, but that seemed to be the point – he sent them out as part of their growing process!
And to be honest, I think He still works that way. He wants to teach us by SHOWING us. It’s not about how much scripture we can memorize – or how many of the fruit or gifts of the spirit we are demonstrating in our lives.
Those are not the primary ways we learn – and the fruit are actually just by-products of us actually having learned our lessons, not badges we need to be striving for.
The primary way that God seems to want to teach us – at least that I am starting to realise for my own life, is to get me to follow Him, so he can SHOW me.
I am in the middle of a great book right now – The Power of a Whisper by Bill Hybels. I ❤ this book, and I haven’t even finished it yet. It’s just such a beautifully simple yet POWERFUL concept. Hearing the voice of God, and responding to it.
I can’t speak for anyone other than myself – but I have a feeling that the more I get the hang of this, the lighter and easier my Christianity is going to be.
The book is full of stories of people who heard God – in different ways, and obeyed him, and the difference it made in different situations, and in their lives – or in the lifes of other people.
Near the beginning of the book Bill tells a story of shortly after the had made a pact with God telling him that he would do anything God asked of him, he was leaving a funeral and noticed an elderly lady pulling into her apartment buildings parking lot with a bunch of groceries – and he felt God telling him to go offer to help. For the sake of brevity, I shall skip to the end – after he had helped her, she told him “I will believe until my dying day that God sent you to help me just now.”
I wrote “wow” inside my copy after that story. Some people might hear that story and think about the power of Random Acts of Kindness (btw – RAK week starts today!) but the true power in that story is the fact that it was something lined up by God.
At least, the power of light & easy Christianity lies in the fact that it was lined up by God. This is where I get back to what I was saying previously about always trying to do the right thing is sometimes what can create a heavy burden.
You see, Bill could have left that woman thinking “Wow, helping that woman meant so much to her! Now every time I see an older lady with groceries, I’m going to help her!”
WRONG! (I mean, there is nothing wrong with helping people with the groceries, by all means – help when you can!) It’s just that there are so many good & right & “needed” things in the world, that if you try to do them all, you will get overwhelmed and burnt-out pretty quickly. If you start thinking that you need to be a certain kind of person because that is what a Christian is, you are placing a very big and heavy burden on yourself, thinking that it is God’s will when really he has a different plan for you.
There are (at least!) two problems with deciding what a Christian looks like, and thinking that you need to pursue that model.
One: God has created us all with different natural abilities, and has different spiritual gifts for each of us – making us different parts of a complete whole, and sometimes the “Christian” we think we need to be is more than God intended for one person to be. He designed us to work together and bless each other – he never expected one person to do everything (I will be writing more on this amazing concept later this week).
Two: there is an amazing supernatural high that comes from knowing that you’ve done something that God directly asked you to do. No matter how small, when you get those leanings on your heart that God wants you to do something, and then you do, you get overwhelmed with a feeling of excitement, a feeling of refreshing. An amazing release knowing that in that moment, for that period of time, you did the EXACT RIGHT THING, no matter how small it was. I believe that that feeling can carry you through the difficult times. Jesus promised hardship to his followers, but I believe that the knowledge of knowing that you were doing EXACTLY what God wanted you to do, can keep your spirit light even under death threats (not that I particularly want to experience those).
That’s it for now – Stay tuned for Parts Three and Four of Light & Easy Christianity.