I don’t care what you believe

May 18, 2009

I don’t care what you believe about Jesus, what denomination you belong to, whether you are Protestant or Catholic or even Morman for that matter, whether your theology is conservative or liberal; beliefs to me are the entry point into the life of the Spirit, not the end point. Beliefs should evolve and change over a lifetime as the Holy Spirit transforms you. I think of religion with its beliefs, practices, worship, and community as a strong structure, a solid container for the transforming work of God, but we need to act on our beliefs, approach God, draw near to him to truly benefit from being a believer. Religion alone, without the action of the Holy Spirit in a life or in a church is dry as dust with no life, vitality, or dynamism.

I do care about your relationship with God, how close you feel to him, who directs your life, you or him, what you love about God, what he calls you to do and be, how he challenges you. How primary is your relationship with God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit in your life? This is the spirituality part of the religious equation. The Holy Spirit, in contrast to religion’s solidity, flows like a fountain, uncontained, uncontainable. It goes like the wind, fills every space, brings gifts to those who are open to him. He is as close as your own breath, as far away as eternity. Here is the dynamic in the religious equation whether we’re speaking of a church, an individual or the whole church.

Do you know how to access the Lord? Do you know what he likes you to pray for, what he likes you to do, how he likes you to be? What is important to him? Do you know him personally, in your heart and mind, or just from what you’ve read in the Bible or from what your church says? Do you have a personal savior? Is your relationship with Christ in the present or is it stuck in what you learned in the past? Has it deepened over time? Are you doing good works, coasting through life or are you doing works prompted and powered by the Holy Spirit? Have you taken the easy route, doing the same thing year after year without the enthusiastic inspiration of the Spirit? Have you stepped through your beliefs into God’s presence often enough to be touched by God every day? Is your faith dynamic, alive and energizing?

Does the Lord know how open and willing you are to his presence in your life? Do you withhold whole areas of life from him—your job, your relationships, your freedom to do what you want? Have you turned over your whole life to him? Today? This minute? What is the quality of your relationship with God? He knows you so well even if you don’t let him in. Do you know him as well? Have you studied the Bible? Do you pray daily? Do you turn over your whole schedule to him, and consult him regularly during the day? Do you ask him to accompany you into difficult situations? Is he your own best friend? Prayer is the whole gamut of communication and communion with the Lord. Do you listen as well as talk? Do you enter into the silence to meet his presence? Do you do that daily?

If you answered mostly no to the questions above, do you know how to get into relationship with the Lord? If you do, then the question is why aren’t you doing it? Why the hesitation, what’s the source of your resistance? What are you afraid of? Be sure that God is calling you every day. Are you saying “No!” every day? If you don’t know how, here’s what you need to understand: what is needed on your part is an active passivity—you need to be willing, open to entering into this relationship and letting God transform you. God is determinative in the relationship, how deep, how close, what needs to be pruned in you, what stays, what direction you’re heading—all the decisions. You need to maintain an attitude of openness and surrender and seek him out at every turn. Start somewhere. Set aside a short period of time in the morning before your day starts and/or at the end of the day. Do it regularly. Sit in silence. Pray. Give an honest assessment of where you are in your relationship and lift that up to him. Express gratitude. Listen for what he wants you to do during that time. It may change over time. Listen. Give yourself time to incorporate all this into your life, lots of time, but persist.

Let that morning period be your base line. Then set an intention to remember the Lord throughout the day, saying thanks for what is happening in the moment and asking for guidance. Then listen throughout your day. Ask for his help in accessing your desire and longing for him, write what is on your heart as honestly as you can, write a psalm, write daily if he calls you to do that. Lift up your work, relationships, daily schedules to him for help and support. Do it now.

Read the Bible, study it. Read authors who have a vibrant relationship with the Lord. Read historical Christian writings, adopt practices that appeal to you. Hang out with people who are devoted to God. Ask them questions, learn from those who expresses love in their lives. This is what God wants from us, devotion, persistence, willingness and openness. If you are called to a deep relationship with God and you answer that call with determination, God will meet you in the spaces in your life. There is where you will find purpose, meaning, love, joy and the fruits of the Spirit.

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