The one reaction I have to contemporary Christianity over and over again is this: where is the closeness to God? Where are the people who have an intimate relationship with God like Jesus did? He called God, Abba or Daddy! He regularly spent time alone with God. God’s laws were written on his heart. He was as warm to other people, helpful to them as God is to us. Where are the Christians whose love shines out of them? God was the center of Jesus’s life and their relationship informed everything he said and did. Where are the Christians who live as Jesus lived in the context of the modern world?
Somehow the church has come between us and God, no longer just mediating our lives for him, but replacing him. Somehow we need proof that God is working in our lives before we will commit to him, as if he were a scientist in a lab and could offer all kinds of documents about his activities in our world.
It is not that the truth about God and us is not in our churches and in the Bible. It is. But we have to dig for it. The very human institution of the church and its interpretations of Scripture have replaced God in our hearts.
I think this is largely due to our preference for a watered down version of who Jesus that replaces the truth of his life and teachings: that he was a radical in his time and just as radical for us. We’re happy to argue about beliefs with other Christians rather than build a relationship with Jesus himself. We work in soup kitchens without getting to know the homeless and their stories. We like to go to church on a Sunday, doing our bit for God, but do we keep the Sabbath, do we run our businesses like Jesus would? How do we treat our employees and customers? With love? Do we live our lives in love? Do we accept, embrace other people who are not like us? Do we live a different life from the rest of the world or is it pretty much the same?
If we look to Jesus, three times he kept saying to Peter, “If you love me, feed my sheep!” [John 21:15-19] What does it mean to feed his sheep? Did he just mean to feed and take care of their physical needs or are we to take care of all the needs, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual? He helped, healed and gave of himself to Samaritans, Romans, tax collectors, prostitutes and lepers, all of whom were outcasts of the Jewish faith. He was always asking, “What do you want?” not just telling them what he would give them. And they seem to be always asking for healing for themselves or their loved ones. And he healed them. Are we asking Jesus to heal us? So that we can love? Not for our own comfort, but so that we can bring in the kingdom here on earth?
He taught them the spirit of the law, the two principles that encompass the laws and commandments, not the 613 laws the Jews of his day were to follow. He taught them about loving God, oneself and others. About how to live fully.
Do we know what Jesus taught? Is his law written on our hearts? Do you hear what Jesus is calling you to do in this moment and the next? Have you turned over your life to him? And continually turned over your human limitations to him? What do you know of God out of your own experience, beyond what someone else has interpreted for you?
Can you feel God’s love and forgiveness that he wants to give you? Or do you still push it away? How can we love others, if we can’t feel love—our own or God’s—for ourselves? Do you take the easy road and avoid the lessons that life has designed for you so as to train you in God’s ways—through our challenges and suffering? How acquainted are you with God’s Indwelling Spirit which lives inside you, dormant until you turn your attention to him, listen to and heed what he says? What are you longing for? What is God telling you about that longing?
We Christians are more visible in the political sphere in regards to laws that pertain to abortion and to the LGBT community than we are known by our love for our neighbors and for our healing and loving ways. We are more apt to argue about our beliefs than to demonstrate them in how we live in our lives and in how we treat other people. So when will we demonstrate love in the world? When will we show others how to be at peace, to experience joy overflowing, to be patient and good and kind and faithful and gentle and self-controlled? [Fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-3] When will we be all those things in this world? When will we Christians be “known by our love, by our love” as the hymn goes? When will I?
Questions to ponder over the week: Is my relationship to the church more important to my relationship to God? In how much of my life do I rely directly on God? In how much of my life am I relying on my church or others to direct? What keeps me from leaning on God? Will I have to change and I don’t want to? Am I afraid he’ll ask too much of me? When will I learn to trust God?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who depend upon God directly for our inspiration in every area of our lives. May we continually be deepening our relationship with God/Jesus Christ/Holy Spirit. May we live in his arms.
News from By the Waters:
Look for my videos on YouTube under By the Waters with Pat Adams.
My book, “Thy Kingdom Come!”, is up on Amazon in both paperback and kindle versions. Look under Patricia Said Adams.
If you want to spread your reading of this post over the for week, check it out at https://www.facebook.com/By-the-waters-146585815373488/. Monday thru Thursday I divide the blog into 4 sections. Then on Fridays I post Questions to Ponder over the weekend.