6 Helpful questions for our Christian Lives - question 2
Over the next few blog posts I will be looking at six questions about our Christian lives that are good for us to think about regularly. Reflecting on them can help provide shape and direction to the three dimensions of our Christian lives: Our life with God, Our life with God's people; and our life with the world around us. Unlike a checklist, these questions are designed to be open ended. Each of us is unique and we will each answer these questions in different ways. In fact at different times we will have different answers ourselves!
It is IMPORTANT to note that
These questions aren't a test.
You aren't going to be graded on the quality of your answers.
It is not about comparing yourself to some 'super Christian'
You will get the most benefit out of these questions if you can identify one or two simple things you can work on in the next few days. This is much better than spending hours creating a long list and then doing nothing!
Question Two - How am I responding to God?
I think one of the great hinderances to growth in our Christian walk is BEING BLASÉ - being indifferent in our responses to the ways we encounter God and the ways God speaks to us.
A number of years ago I was talking with Paul Maconochie. He was reflecting on different responses to miraculous healing. If a miraculous healing happened in some village in Africa, there would often be a great response with people following Jesus. But if a similar miraculous healing happened in a village in England, the most likely response would be 'that's nice for you'. In other words, there would be two dramatically different responses to God intervening in the normal course of someone's life.
I wonder why that would be? Maybe one group of people are more attuned to the spiritual world while the other has a more material focus. Maybe one group is open to new things, but the other has been so bombarded by 'shiny new things' through advertising that they tune out. Maybe one group is more willing/able to think through the implications - this person was healed by prayer in the name of Jesus, maybe there is something to this, maybe Jesus is real, is alive, and is still at work in this world, and if that is so, I had better think about this carefully and take this new information seriously.
Healings may not be a regular part of your experience, but if you are part of a church, the chances are that exposure to the bible is a regular experience - either through personal reading, bible study groups, or sermons. Because this exposure is so regular and familiar I think we can sometimes become blasé about this amazing record of God's teaching about the meaning of life; who God is; what God is doing; who we are; the sort of people God wants us to be; and the varied ways God has interacted with people in history. It can be easy to fall into the trap talked about in James 1:
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
I think sometimes we unintentionally drift into being blasé to God's word through the business of life and the tyranny of the urgent.
One of the great insights I have received through Mike Breen and 3dm is that Jesus trained his disciples through reflecting on the experiences in their lives - forgetting a lunch, arguing about who is the greatest, being unable to cast out a demon - just to name a few. And that if Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, I should expect that Jesus would want to train me through reflecting on the experiences in my life today. However, it is easy to become blasé about the events in life and forget that in the midst of them there maybe gold nugget opportunities to respond to God.
So how can we get better at responding to God in the next few days? How can we stop BEING BLASÉ?
My first bit of advice is DON'T try and accumulate a long list of the ways you have encountered God through miracles, the bible or events in your life. You may be tempted to marvel the list you have made and take it no further, or you might be overwhelmed by trying to respond to all the different things you think God might be saying.
Rather, pick ONE MOMENT (the greek word is Kairos) - a positive or negative event from your life (whether big or small); a passage from the bible; or an idea from a sermon - and focus on responding to it as thoroughly and deeply as you can. Don't rush it.
I have found the 3dm learning circle based on Mark 1:14-15 a great help:
In my best moments I have changed my thinking (repentance) through observing what has happened, reflecting personally and discussing it with others; and changed my acting (belief) by making a simple achievable plan, asking someone to hold me accountable to that plan, and following through on that plan. Each time I have responded to God in this way, I have found myself becoming a bit more like Jesus.
Whether you use this tool or some other method - focus on responding to ONE MOMENT well. It will develop your ability to respond to God.
Two final thoughts:
If you have never used this process before, you will probably find it helpful to talk with someone who has applied it in their own lives.
Be careful not to skip any step - each of us has a built in tendency to skip one or more of the 6 steps of the process. So even if it feels a bit mechanical, go through each step in order.