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.
This is something I wrote in response to the following picture I saw on an online blog. You probably have encountered something like this in old email chains.
Why don’t we tell the world that we believe Jesus by actually modeling Him (John 14:12, Mark 16:15-20, 1 John 2:6) instead of guilt-tripping people into feeling better about clicking button so that they feel better about being able to mention “Jesus” on their blog?
Jesus also said, “By this, ALL will know that you are my disciples, that you love one another.” (John 13:35)
But. To answer the questions.
1. People sleep during mass because there is no life on it (John 6:63). There is a whole lot of “vain repetition like the heathen” (Matthew 6). There is a lot of religious form, but no power that actually transforms people. There’s a lot of “saying prayers” but very little prayer.
2. It’s hard to talk about God because the common association God has with “church.” People don’t need to hear religious phrases like, “don’t have sex before you get married,” “don’t get drunk,” “you’re a sinner,” “you need to get saved.”
People don’t need church, they need Jesus. People don’t need be told they’re sinners, they need to be told they have been forgiven. People don’t need your judgements, they need to be shown the Love Jesus has demonstrated.
Go talk to almost any secular person, and they will tell you that they like the person of Jesus. Immediately after, if you ask them what they think of Christians, most of them have had a sour taste. Why? Most Christians look nothing like Jesus.
It’s easy to talk about Jesus when it’s the fact that you’re starting to look/act/talk/walk like Him and you’re a “friend of sinners,” not when you’re a “nice church-goer.” When your goal is “to love people” you get a much better response than when your goal is to “get people saved.”
3. It is hard for most to read the bible because it is frequently taught as a religious you-should-do-this-because-it’s-good-for-you-tradition, instead of the fact that is a letter from someone you can actually know, and it is through this letter you discover the heart and character of a loving Father. It is also an owner’s manual on what the New Covenant, New Creation is capable of doing with grace under the law of Love.
4. Just because message talks about God doesn’t make it “Godly.”
5. If you’ve ever been into a bar, you would know why. There are no masks there. Everyone in a bar is real. There is no facade. There is no performance. There is no illusion of performance. No one there has an agenda to change you.
Churches are getting smaller because no one can be real, and because most churches don’t help people get free. Most people in church are dealing with the EXACT same problems and sins that people who aren’t in church deal with.
I think a lot of secular people who read this note-thing will laugh because it’s all so artificial. People shouldn’t need you to reblog in order to tell if you’re a christian. They should be able to look at your life, the way you speak, the way you treat people, your integrity, your actions etc etc and be able to tell whether you are following Jesus or not.
To post this kind of thing up is very similar to what Jesus rebuked the pharisees for being clean on the outside of the cup, but were inwardly full of greed and wickedness. Your inward heart is not consistent with your external reputation.
To guilt-trip people into putting on a religious appearance when their life is not consistent with what they preach is setting people up to become exactly what the world already thinks. “Christians are hypocrites”
So stop it. Stop talking about this stuff. Go. And actually be. like. Jesus. Love someone. Show mercy to someone. Forgive someone. Heal the sick. Care for the poor. Be filled with joy. Don’t slander and gossip and praise and worship God with the same mouth. Care for people who are hurting and broken. Have compassion for someone. Reach out to someone with no friends. Actually care about someone instead of preaching at them.
Actions will always speak louder and clearer than words.
This is the original link.
This was written by my friend who is a non-believer and has encountered the hypocrisy of a handful of Christians.
You stand apart and declare yourselves
Martyred by a world who shows only hatred for you
When you were the ones who judged first:
You cast the first stones.
You are not hated for your righteousness or your faith
But the hypocrisy reflected in the judgement you bring on this world.
You preach of great love and compassion –
What love have you shown your fallen fellow man?
What compassion have you shown to the broken and disheartened?
Why do you judge with hatred the love between those you see unfit
When you speak of mercy that stems only from love,
Mercy you claim to be equally undeserving to receive?
Why do you confine yourselves to your majestic alters
Condemning the world for its selfishness and crying for its needs
When those who hurt most lack even the strength to knock upon your mighty doors?
Is it hatred for you because your words fall on deaf ears
And the world goes on pursuing the only dreams it understands?
If so, then is it not hatred for the world when you turn their pains into sins
And confine them to darkness with your lives the only light?
Are you really listening?
You declare yourselves a chosen people,
An elite ranking granted only by your birthright,
But you do not see the holocaust before your very eyes.
The world does not martyr you,
It is you who is divorcing yourselves from this world.
Each beating heart can only feel its own thrashing pain
And who but God above can truly hear the echoes of their cries?
Who are you to silence their pains and claim it the will of God?
What right do you have to declare their dreams unfit?
Perhaps you are not of this world,
But you are in this world
And while you are in this world you take and give
Just like those who you claim persecute you:
You take and give both the good and the bad.
You are no better.
Come off your pedestal.
Perhaps your debts have already been paid to God above,
But do you not owe your fellow man
The same acceptance you claim he denies you?
No more an eye for an eye,
But acceptance for acceptance,
Love for love,
And life for life.
Don’t strike those who were never going to strike you.
Wake up church. You are being persecuted for the wrong reasons. You are being persecuted for your hypocrisy, not your Christ-likeness.