Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wholeheartedly

I've been having a lot of difficult conversations lately. Racism, sexism, classism, privilege, and anti-LGBTQ sentiments are all part of my usual fare. Then I have the occasional conversation with a person who is put off by religion or by religious people, so then I am in heavy listening mode. Good energy in patient listening takes away some of the energy I would put toward careful writing.

All this listening has changed my prayer life. I find now that my most common prayer is "Soften my heart. Soften my neck." I know that a hard heart and a stiff neck, both metaphorical, will interfere with the patience and kindness that I am trying to embody. I actively seek Christ in myself and in the other person by focusing on even my internal organs being gentled by the Savior.

This has caused me to pay attention to how often church people bifurcate their lives. Our bodies are our daily vehicle- the daily throne of God and inhabitance of Christ, driven by the Spirit. The experience of church, Bible study, the sacraments, and mutual building up for discipleship that happens in the fellowship of other Christians is a kind of fueling up for the rest of our time. It is not the only time we drive the car.

When I talk about living and dying for Christ, remembering that there is only one God, or yielding to pull of the Holy Spirit, I mean doing it in the grocery store, at the mailbox, in the bank drive-thru, and at the dog park. I mean that because I trust that Jesus means that when he explains discipleship to the apostles and all those gathered around him. A faithful life is a whole life. A whole life means every minute of every day. In order to live all our minutes faithfully, we may need to change how we pray, how we talk, and how we listen.

So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Romans 12:1
There is not a part of the day when a Christian is not in Christ. There is no place that we can go that is outside of God's view or the Spirit's urging. There is no time that we are "off duty" and can make choices that have nothing to do with the faith we have been given. As much as Western Christians like to think of their faith as private and personal, being a person of Christ recreates your entire self, reorienting your understanding to comprehend that all that you have, all that you are, and all that is belongs to God.

Being a follower of Christ is our reality. It impacts our every decision. If we are not thinking about or considering that fact, it is not that it doesn't have an impact, it is that we are ignoring it. The non-religious people I meet who are grieved by or frustrated with Christians notice this the most. The actions of those who claim to follow Christ surprise them most because their Monday-Saturday actions don't match their Sunday words.

If you see yourself in this, I encourage you to adopt the prayer of "Soften my heart". Perhaps you need to be in my conversation schedule. We are compelled, by Christ's love for us, to witness to his love, call to turn around (repentance), and show his mercy in all we say and do, every day, in every place, with all people.