Sunday, 24 June 2012

When the Christian life is not working

I’ve been continuing to think about different aspects of Christian life and growth.
On the evangelical spectrum, it can be all about the Word – just believe it, confess it, act on it and everything will be all right.
On the charismatic front, it can be all that we need is more of the Spirit – get filled, get anointed, and everything will be all right.
Well, you may have been there, I certainly have, and though both have there place, both can miss it, leading to disappointment and discouragement and even to departure from Christian life and the church.
You see each can miss the dynamic of our own interior lives, and end up with a super-spiritual and superficial Christian experience.
God in the business of saving us, isn’t simply interested in getting us to heaven, but transforming us here on earth, and no amount of believing the Word or anointing of the Spirit will do anything for us if we are not prepared for God to get on the inside of us, and deal with our interior lives.
For years I ignored my internal life, I believed the Word, I experienced the Spirit, I served, I ministered, but something wasn’t working, and the fault wasn’t God’s. Then I hit the wall. Got got my attention. I was a perfectionist. I was angry – it was suppressed. Most would never have known.
I slowly began to realise what was going on, and I didn’t like it, but I also began to realise that if I didn’t recognise and come to terms with my interior life, and allow God to deal with it, I was heading for a crash. For years I had lived as a kind of Christian ‘android,’ thinking and acting as a cool evangelical, knowing the power of God as a Spirit-filled Christian, but something was missing, something just wasn’t working.
Praise God that has changed, God is so gracious.
What about you, is your Christian life real and authentic and growing, or are you stagnated and frustrated and you don’t know why?
Have you ever checked your interior life?
Maybe the disappointment and pain you are experiencing is actually God wanting to get to you in order to change you -you’ve believed, you’ve prayed, you’ve been prayed for, you’ve sought more of the Spirit, but nothings changed – it’s time to let God speak and act through the disappointment and pain.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Saved Sinner or Saint - Part 3

Thinking further about whether we see ourselves as 'just sinners saved saved by grace or saints,' I've been thinking that another part of our problem is speed. Today there seems to be pressure to produce disciples overnight - as if knowledge and maturity is something that can just be taught in just a few lessons; but life is not like that.

In the natural realm growth takes time, and part of that growth is the knowledge of who we are. A child may well be born into a family with a given identity, but they don't immediately realise who they are. It is only as time goes by that that begins to sink in as they grow up into it.

Then again when people are born again/become Christians, we tend to want to get them involved in doing something, but there is a very real danger in doing before being. It buys into the world's way of thinking that our identity is found in our doing rather than our being.

The fact is we need to slow down... . .  .  .  .   .     .       .         .            speed kills - it kills the spiritual life.

The Bible talks about "waiting on the Lord" (some Psalms and Isaiah comes to mind), but it's interesting and concerning that some modern versions are now translating this as "trust in the Lord" - now that is a part of it, but waiting on God is more than that.

Too many of us are spiritual Martha's - we are too busy, we don't know how to stop, we don't know how to wait, and so we don't know who we really are because all that we are is wrapped in in what we are doing. Take that away, and we are lost.

Waiting on God involves stopping and spending time with Father, listening to him and learning about his love and care for us as his children - as it says, "Beloved, we are now the children of God..." - Mary had it right, she knew when to stop and how to stop.

Is your Christian life just too busy? Is it more about doing than delighting? More about rules than relationship? Getting things done than grace? Then stop, get into the Father's presence, go to the scriptures, search them, listen to the Father's voice, you'll be the better for it.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A Sinner saved by grave or a saint? Part 2

Following on from last week here are some further thoughts…..

So if we are more than ‘sinners saved by grace’ why is it that we struggle with being called ‘saints’?

Here are three possible reasons:
  • We look the same – we have not been noticably transformed or are identifyably any different, we don’t suddenly have ‘halos’ or possess a ‘holy auror,’ or walk around 6 inches off the ground.
  • We don’t necessarily feel like it. We have some measure of a ‘born again’ experience. I say some measure, because for some it’s more dramatic than others, yet no less real – some can name a date, for others it happened over a period of time and they are not sure when they actually crossed the line; for some it was a dramatic experience, for others it wasn’t…..
  • We still find ourselves struggling with sin. I mean if I am a new creation why is that? Perhaps you think, what changed? Did anything change?
If we are to move forward it helps us to remember something of how life works in both the natural and the spiritual:
  • In some ways becoming a Christian is a bit like moving from one country to another and then becoming a citizen of that country. You may well take on the new identity but you you still have memories and thinking patterns that reflect your previous history or citizenship.
  • Then there is the matter of growth in knowledge and understanding.  A child doesn’t understand immediately who he or she is, but over a period of time learns who they are, and grows into it.
  • Then theres the not so small matter of experience. It’s not just knowledge and understanding but the working out of it through decision and action. Such decision making and action can confirm or work against our knowledge of who we are.
  • Lastly Christians are in a ‘war zone’ and the enemy will contest everything. Even as Satan confronted Jesus as to who he was, so he will confront those who believe in and seek to follow him.
Where are you  on the spectrum?

Have you crossed the line into the kingdom? If not I urge you to believe in him who lived and died that you might have a new identity, and know the power of the life to come.

Are you still a babe in Christ? It’s time to start growing – feed on him and his word; draw on the new life he has given you.

Are you taking responsibility for your decisions and their consequences? It’s time to start behaving as well as believing.

Are you caught in the battle, your shield is down and you’ve dropped your sword – it’s time to pick them up again and start fighting for your spiritual life.

Have you dropped out of the battalion – the local church – you need to get back into it, find your family and fellow soldiers.