I was intrigued to see what they were going to say because in my observations of Christians they generally fit into this camp:
THE DO-ERS: People who serve and serve and serve and have a job and kids and are doing distance learning and caring for elderly relatives and campaigning for something to be better...the ones who NEVER stop. The ones who single-handedly run Sunday Schools, who finish their kids art projects for them, who find time to redecorate rooms and visit people in hospital. The ones who you need to book a slot with because they are doing life at an insane pace.
Christians seem to be the busiest people I know. Whether it's because they see ways to serve and love God in everything, or whether it's because they feel an obligation to - Christians DO a lot of things.
However, at Church we are often told to be:
BE-ERS: The Mary's, who sit at Jesus' feet and learn from him. Those who can spend substantial amounts of time in solitude reflecting and communing with God. Those who always seem to be at peace and carry this aura of calm with them wherever they go.
If I'm honest neither of these options has seemed hugely attractive to me. I can definitely identify more with being a DO-ER, but the older I get the less this fulfills me. I used to find security in being busy; now I relish time to stop and reflect. The prospect of being a BE-ER though doesn't sound my thing...don't get me wrong I want to spend time with Jesus and learn, but solitude is not for me, and I don't carry calm with me at all!
So the opportunity to hear something new about how to live a life fully Alive has been tempting.
Today in our Alive course I took away the following:
- In my life I need boundaries. I need to realise that my every day yes/no determines how I live my life. What is it that I really want to do with my life? How am I going to protect it? Once I've decided these priorities I need to put things in place to help me see whether I am sticking to the boundaries or not.
- A lot of the time we subconsciously judge people as good/bad Christians based on outward things - do they come to Church? Do they pray out? Do they serve? How big is their Bible? etc. We use these things as "boundary markers" - they are all good things, but they don't necessarily make you a good Christian.
- However, the boundary markers we should be looking for are do they love God? Do they love his people? This is taken from the commandment Jesus gave in Mark 12:30-31
- How do I most naturally love God - when is it that I feel most close to God? What do I do that makes me love him more? Whatever that is - do it! Do it more, grow in it. Find others who will support/encourage/wrestle with you.
- Don't deny who you are. We are all different and that is good. Don't try to fit into a mold that hasn't been made for you. Instead explore how you connect with God even if it is unconventional.
So I learnt this evening that I connect with God mainly through relationships and being with people. I am much more likely to feel challenged/encouraged spiritually after a chat with another Christian or with spending time with others. I struggle being on my own and find that it sometimes actually has a negative reaction on my faith - something I am trying to address.
I think there is an unsaid expectation in the Church that we all should connect to God through reading our Bibles and praying. And that stuff is great! But I know for me that I generally get more out of a 10 min conversation with someone than an hours personal Bible study. I get frustrated with expectations - what does God expect of me? That I love him and love others.
Let's be free in how we best do that.