Sometimes I Wish We All Weren’t So “Christian”

This is a guest post by Wendy van Eyck

I sometimes struggle to talk to people who believe in Jesus.

Sometimes I wish my friends didn’t sound so Christian. Sometimes I wish they’d tell me how they feel instead of telling me what they think I want to hear.

I find it hard because I don’t always feel like we can have a conversation about really matters to them.

Often it feels like we are all trying to sound “Christian” rather than “human”.

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I know from experience how tempting it is to brush people off with a “Christian” sounding, “Yes, what I am going through is hard, but God sustains me.”

I learnt through holding my husband’s hand through two years of cancer treatment, that speaking words that sound “Christian” prevents people from being Jesus’ hands and feet to us.

I think when I read Matthew 5: 3-5 in the Message this really clicked for me:

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can the One dearest to you embrace you.
You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

Those don’t sound a lot like descriptions of people who have it all together. They read more like descriptions of me on my best days.

It sounds like the kind of person who would be good friends with the biblical Job, the kind of person who understands the despair David wrote of in the Psalms.

It sounds like the kind of person who would just come straight out and say, “I don’t know how I’m going to get out of the mess I’m in.”

It sounds like the kind of person who lives openly with brokenness.

It sounds like the kind of person who isn’t out to impress God, or anyone, with holiness.

It sounds like the kind of person who accepts being a Christian is more about what God does in a person than being perfect.

It sounds like the kind of person I want to be.

And I’m realizing that if I want to have the kind of conversations, with people who believe in Jesus, that go beyond “praise God” and “Amen”, I need to start giving honest answers myself. And as I live with honesty in my brokenness maybe it’ll encourage others to share what’s on their hearts.

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  • As I live with honesty in my brokenness maybe it’ll encourage others to share what’s on their hearts [Click to Tweet]

wendy van eyckCheck out Wendy’s blog here. She writes devotionals about finding God in ordinary moments. In an inspiring way, she also writes about her and her husband, Xylon’s journey as Xylon fought cancer.
Thanks for stopping by Wendy!

My Convenience And ‘Their’ Commitment

I’m looking into the book of Acts as part of my theology studies. I’ve never seen things in it the way I have the last few weeks. It is amazing what God can do with people fully yielded to Him.

It is amazing what happens when the Spirit of God is allowed full reign in the lives of the disciples in the early Church. Peter boldly speaks and 3,000 people repent and are baptised (Acts 2:14-41).

Peter and John challenge the authorities with no fear (Acts 4:1-31). They speak God’s message with boldness. Philip follows the leading of the Holy and baptises the first gentile and he is translated to another location (Acts 8:26-40).

The dead are brought to life; people are set free from oppressing spirits… There are many things God did through ordinary people, empowered by His Spirit.

I’m excited; challenged and freaking out as I read the amazing accounts of the early Church.

My Convenience And Their Commitment

I pray God would use me like how He did with some of the followers of the Way in those early days. Then I cower. Do I really have the commitment of the early Church? Would I be willing to drink death’s cup through stoning, like Stephen?

Can I get up from a beating and proceed to preach in the next town like Paul? Can I really stand before dignitaries and tell them to go jump off a cliff because my commitment is to God’s cause like Peter and John did?

I am privileged to be in a nation where I don’t get persecuted for my faith. As I think further, many Christ followers around the world live with persecution as it was for the early Church.

The questions I ask myself have to do with what I am willing to do for God. Perhaps I have it twisted. Perhaps the question I should be asking is, “how yielded to God am I?”

What is the extent of my surrender to God and His purposes for all people? Am I surrendered to God to such an extent where nothing is an inconvenience to me?

My convenience and comfort sometimes seem to have more of my allegiance than the purposes of God… May I be so given to Him, His glory and purposes…

God, as I pray, would you give me courage to pray. Give me courage to live a life fully surrendered to you. Because how I’m spent will not matter when I am that, surrendered… No greater prayer could I ever pray… Amen.

[Photo Credit: Dietmar Becker on Unplash]

My Opinions And God’s Will / Plans For Others

My Opinions And God’s Will Plans For Others

I have opinions. Many opinions. I sometimes think I know more than I really do. Sometimes I convince myself of that. At other times I am so blinded by “my convictions” (whatever that is).

I blindly believe and act according to what I think is best. I do this for me… The sad thing is that I also impose this on others, as well. And, worst of all, I try to recruit God to my side of the “judgment lines“, when He doesn’t do what I think He should be. Like He needs to be convinced I’m right… There are times I’ve had my opinions about others and God’s will for their lives.

In some instances I’ve felt God shouldn’t be doing some things through some people. Either because I (strongly) felt they just weren’t “wired” for it. I justified their failures as validation for inadequacies I perceived in them. As if God didn’t already know what they could and couldn’t do. As if He was blind, like when parents think the world of one child and treat the other as a demon of sort.

My Opinions And God’s Will Plans For Others

You know when the “angel of a sibling” does nothing wrong and mom and dad don’t believe the “bad one” when he or she reports a bad incident perpetrated by the “angel”?

I cry foul when God seems unfair, when He is actually being gracious to others [Click to Tweet]

Like Jonah, the one in the Bible, I fight God on His will for people. Jonah was upset that God wanted to show mercy on Nineveh. He was livid that God showed mercy to “bad people” (Jonah 4:1-4).

Some translations of the Bible say that Jonah was “displeased”, but when I read around that, “displeasure” is way too mild. His reaction, to go out of the city and ask God to kill him, “displeasure”? Yeah right! Jonah was livid! Infuriated!

Reading Philip Yancey’s, “What’s So Amazing About Grace” challenged my view of grace. It helped me understand a little more just how gracious God is and can be.

However, there are other instances, where I have, in different ways, God’s will and plans for others. Why did God not take my opinions on the people or the situations?

God seems to remind me that my opinions of other people and what He should do don’t really count. For that I’m often infuriated. Infuriated, like the brother who stayed home, in Jesus story. You know, the brother who didn’t squander his part of the inheritance from the father who was still alive…

I guess there are instances where I have been that older brother. The one who was more upset with God’s grace on others despite how they dissed Him.

And, ironically, also relieved.

Relieved that God doesn’t act like how my sometimes, depraved mind and emotions sometimes want Him to. That His grace goes beyond what I think. The thing is, if He had to do that for others, like how I sometimes think He should, then He would also need to withdraw His to / from me. His grace that I’m in always desperate need for.

What makes me think God needs my wisdom on dealing with people He made, knows and loves infinity multiplied by infinity forever, more than me.

God’s plans, for others aren’t dependent on my opinion of them or their circumstance [Click to Tweet]

This, as I’ve written about it in the past, sometimes gets in the way of my assignments as God send me to others. My opinions are often a hindrance to encouraging others to fully commit to what they feel God is leading them to.

Somehow I’ve been reminded of how my opinions, our opinions cause people to be hesitant in being completely given to what God wants of them. We can easily and nastily get in the way.

That’s what the Pharisees and Sadducees did in Jesus’ time. They somehow, made themselves the standards gatekeepers. They exalted their opinions above God’s love and plans for others. When I join them. Do like “them“.

God, forgive me. Help me remember, keep this at the fore of my mind: Your will, grace and plans for others doesn’t depend on my opinions or feelings. May you help me (and all Christ followers) to not have opinions but discern Your will for others and be a part of it where and if we need to be. Amen.

[Photo Credit: David Restivo]

OTHERS | What The Assignments God Gives Us Reveal [Part 3]

I’d like to think that I am God’s sole focus. That God has nothing better to do in multiverse but love me and wait for me to give Him an assignment. To meet my needs.

If the rest of the world is anything like me, God must have His hands full. Somehow He seems to care about people who He actually sends other people to them.

Like I’ve said before, when the hurting pray, God sends people. This makes me wonder and shudder; at the thought of how much hurt I’ve allowed to continue because of my unresponsiveness. I’m freaking out at the thought I haven’t curbed injustice because of wanting my comfort undisturbed. Because of being selfish…

OTHERS - What The Assignments God Gives Us Reveal

Despite our frailties, stubbornness and selfishness, God still sends us. He gives us assignments to reach other people. To be His agents. His representatives. Wow. Excitement. Fear. Sadness. A mess.

When God sends us, sends me, He reveals His heart for others. I’d like to think I’m the center of universe but there are other people God wants to reach. Sometimes, He sends to people we don’t feel deserve His grace.

Yet, He still sends…

When God gives us assignments His reveals that He cares for other people as well. He wants us to realize that other people matter to Him. That as much as He loves us, He loves “them”.

I have to remember that other people matter to Him as much as I do. When He gives us assignments He reminds us that we are to always look around us to meet need. Need for a shoulder. For time and other tangible things.

He reveals and reminds us of His love for others. Dear Jonah, stop thinking you’re it. Stop admiring and justifying your self-pity, lust, self-centeredness and selfish ambition. See the people God sees, the way He sees them. Feel and bleed for them.

Go.

[Photo Credit: Joe Shlabotnik]