I’ve reached a point, for a while now I must admit, where I no longer feel “spiritual” anymore.
It’s not that I’ve changed what I believe about God or anything, but it’s that I’ve realized even more so that what we are taught that is the “form” of Christianity doesn’t actually encompass what truly is Christianity.
I mean to say that all the externals of what we believe “ought” to be part of the “Christian life” don’t paint an accurate picture of what Jesus lived.
Some people live out their Christianity as if there were a list of appropriate things to do when you are married. It’s as if there’s a general consensus to follow and if your marriage doesn’t look just like everyone expects it to look, then there’s something wrong with how your marriage works.
It’s like.. you should go with your spouse on dates, make love, cook for each other, have children together, remember each other’s birthdays, remember the anniversary, yadda yadda ya, and if you don’t do some or most of these things, then apparently there’s something “wrong” with your marriage.
But the whole point of marriage is one thing, love your spouse. Everything described in the previous paragraph are demonstrations of love, but it’s as if we emphasis “make sure you do these things” rather than “make sure you love.”
Because it’s possible to “do these things” because you know that’s what you should do or what is considered “normal” in a marriage. But if you actually love your spouse, you don’t need to be told “do these thing.,” If it’s genuine love, there should be room for it to look different. And so long as love is still at the core of it, who cares what it looks like?
Obviously we’re assuming the definition of love is based on the love that God has demonstrated.
That brings me to what I really want to say.
Marriage isn’t about a certain “form.” Marriage, at the heart, is about loving your spouse. The form of it will look similar for some couples, and different in other couples. If you emphasize what a marriage “ought” to look like, you’ll likely have people “doing” but not actually understanding the heart of it.
In the same way, we’re all taught what the “Christian life” should look like. Whether it’s explicitly taught or whether it’s just a byproduct of being surrounded by a particular “Christian culture,” we have an ideal of what “ought” to be the “Christian” way to live.
But I’m starting to think differently.
Just like marriage shouldn’t be put in the confines of “Oh this is just what married couples do, it’s what married couples have done for years!” Christianity shouldn’t be put in the confines of, “Well this is what we’ve known as the Christian life for years! We’ve gone through the extent of what it can look like!”
Just like marriages should have the freedom to grow in whatever way possible, evolve into any expression it wants in the confines of “love.” So should our idea of what the “Christian life” should be like. It’s not set in stone. You can do whatever you want, express it the way you want — in the same confines of “the Love of Christ.”
The reason why I no longer feel “spiritual” is because what I believed to be “spiritual activity” as I grew up in church, I no longer do on a regular basis. But the heart of it hasn’t changed. I still have a life given to demonstrate Jesus to people in a radical way, to love the hell out of people, to lay my life down to serve, build, edify, add value to other people’s lives.
But for me, it doesn’t look like going to church every Sunday. It doesn’t look like going to prayer meetings. It doesn’t look like being part of a young adult group. It doesn’t look like going to conferences or winter retreats. It doesn’t look like going to praise nights. It doesn’t look like going to outreach events. It doesn’t look like listening to Christian music all day and having Christian t-shirts and bumper stickers.
It looks more like pursuing relationships regularly throughout the week with fellow believers because I consider them family.
It looks more like a conversation with God throughout the day, whenever, anytime, because He’s my Dad, not a “superstar” that we have to crowd around and try to get His attention.
It looks like being a part of a community of close friends who would die for each other, who have given our lives to build each other up, sharpen one another because we are truly brothers and sisters by the DNA of God.
It looks like taking Jesus’s commission seriously to make disciples, to train, to equip, to build, and to help mature each other in the context of everyday life, rather than waiting for a meeting/conference/retreat.
It looks more like a life laid down to re-present Jesus to the world, not just in songs sung.
It looks like showing that I care to homeless people that I drive by. It looks like healing people who are sick and ill as I walk past them in the grocery store. It looks like setting people free from the bondage of lies and liberating them with the Truth of Jesus and the freedom He came to bring as a present day reality, not some far off answer in the distance, years down the road.
It looks like just caring for people because they’re my friends, being there for them in whatever way that they might need, not because I have an ulterior motive to “evangelize” them.
I no longer consider any of these things as “spiritual activities,” I consider these as an overflow of, “How can I show people that I love them?”
Just as no married couple thinks of engaging in “marital activities” but rather, “How can I express my love to my spouse?”
Again.. if your definition of love is skewed, you might take what I’m saying the wrong way. Ask God to teach you what His love is like, or you can read what God’s taught me in the past few years about it here, here, here, and here.
With that said, I’m not trying to create another “list” of things of what I believe “ought” to sum up what the Christian life is about.
I’m saying that the emphasis should be to live from the heart of Christianity, not live Christianity like a cookie cutter mold of what we’re taught “is” the Christian life.
It makes sense, the emphasis of a successful marriage is one that is founded on, “Love your spouse,” not an attempt to religiously copy and imitate what everybody believes is a “good marriage.” Likewise, to get your definition of what a “good Christian” does based on “church activities” is to put the unlimited Power, Love, and Kingdom of God in a very small box.
Being a Christian isn’t about how many “spiritual activities” you do, it’s about living from a place of wanting to impact people (discipleship) and serve people (love) because God’s love has taken root in you and now compels you in every way.
And when you live from that place, it’ll no longer be about whether something is “spiritual” or not, whether you have the “right” form of Christianity and it’ll be more about living from the core-heart of it.