Friday, January 24, 2014

I've been thinking lately that I don't know how to be a Christian.

My parents joined a church when I was five, and they still attend that church.  I think I've attended church more years of my life than not.  I've probably read the Bible through two or three times.  I'm pretty well versed in theology. 

But I had a thought a few weeks ago that really shook me.

If no one knows you're a Christian unless you tell them, are you doing it right?

I've been reading the Gospels during this time.  Yes, Jesus hung out with tax collectors and sinners.  But His message was pretty tough.  He talks about plucking out your eye, or cutting off your foot or hand if it causes you to stumble - because it's better to be lame than in hell.  Heck, I'm not even good at turning off tv shows.

Every time it mentions Him healing the sick and casting out demons, it starts by saying He had compassion on them.  Also, there were lots of people with demons in those days - wonder if it's still true today and if so how would we know? One other interesting thing about the demons - they all knew exactly who Jesus was and why He was here - not even the disciples really understood that until later. 

Anyway.  Jesus was a radical with a strong message to any who wanted to follow Him.  The disciples tend to make me laugh.  I'm sure Jesus did lots of eye rolls in their direction.  I think there could be a great comedy movie in there somewhere.

Things I think I kinda get right.  I'm a pretty empathetic/compassionate person.  I try very hard to listen to that "still small voice" that I believe is God talking to us, and act on what I hear.  And I'm amazingly grateful - for my life, for nature, for trees and birds and sunsets and all the small things.  I also try very hard to be nice to strangers when out and about.  I smile at people walking by, things like that.  I often hope it can be that small thing that makes a difference. 

But I get caught in this notion that being a Christian is this complete devotion and surrender, every moment, every day.  And one of my all time favorite books in being a Christian, The Christian Secret of a Happy Life, teaches about our responsibility and God's responsibility in our lives/faith.  Our job is simply to have faith, and God's is to do the action part.  But even that seems hard sometimes.

I often think about being a "good steward" in the small things - you know, home and family.  And boy do those seem to be full of land mines.  My inclination toward depression and impatience make this hard.  If I can't be a Christian at home, how can I anywhere else?  If I can't serve Noah and Ching...  (Although today I was thinking about how much time I spend literally serving Noah snacks all day and hoped that counts!)

C. S. Lewis has some great writings about the very subtle sins that crop up in family life.  I haven't read it in over 20 years, but the basic message sticks with me.  He also wrote great stuff about "love your neighbor as yourself" and just how much and in what ways we love ourselves - part of which is always giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt in our motivations.  Do I do that for others?  It's hard.

I don't know.  I don't know why all of this is on my mind so much. 

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