I know some people will jump all over this one, but I find my most effective time to pray is around 1 in the morning, when I have been awakened from a sound sleep and am still in a somnambulant state. Analytic thought is at a low point — which is where the scoffing comes in (“See, I told you that Christians don’t think!“), but sometimes, our thinking and overthinking get in the way.
So last night, at 1 in the morning, it became very clear to me:
Christianity does not have to be as difficult as we make it. At its most basic, primeval level, this is what it’s saying:
1) God created us.
2) He delights in us, and wants to interact with us.
3) We blow him off.
4) He doesn’t give up.
5) He loves us.
6) He wants us to love Him back.
Simple, yet Complex
Yes, it gets more complicated than that, and we can have all sorts of discussion about the fallen, sinful state of man (point number 3) and the regenerating work of Jesus Christ to re-establish our broken connection with God (point number 4) – and this is all very, very true. But in our efforts to “grow as disciples” and “intentionally pursue a relationship of passion and meaning,” and whatever else we are being exhorted to do from the pulpit, we forget that the principle aspect of Christianity is that it is a relationship.
And relationships involve feelings, and the most important of these feelings is love.
God loves us.
This is so critical and so central to Christianity, and yet it is the first concept we throw off and away as we begin studying and growing and picking up a lot of shoulds, oughts, and musts:
The List of Rules Is Endless
1) We should attend regular services throughout the week.
2) We ought to listen to the elders and leaders in our lives, not just in the church, but everywhere.
3) We must tithe.
4) We shouldn’t ask too many questions or rock the boat.
5) We should be gentle and kind and meek and submissive and yet we oughtn’t be proud or arrogant or aggressive or thoughtless, and if we don’t know what these attributes look like, we should rely on the people in point number 2, not Christ Himself, to instruct us.
It’s not that growing and learning and studying are bad — it’s that in focusing on how we should, ought, and must behave as Christians, we forget what led us to this belief system in the first place:
We want to be loved.
And God does love us.
Walking, Literally, with God
One of my favorite books in the Bible is Genesis, and one of my favorite images is Genesis
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’”
There is a pathos to this passage because it describes a regular activity, that up to that day, God and Adam and Eve enjoyed together: they walked, in the garden, communing and talking and just being in one another’s company. This is what families do when they gather around the dinner table, at the end of the day, sharing their stories and experiences and lives.
And I am flabbergasted that the All Powerful God of the the Universe enjoyed time with the creations made in His image.
He still does enjoy this time, my friend, and when we respond to Him, and His love, we have the opportunity to walk in the garden with Him, or gather around the dinner table, or close our eyes and meditate, and be with the Person who made us, and loves us, and wants us to love Him back.
Don’t lose sight of this very simple, yet extremely profound, message of Christianity.
My goal as a writer, and a Christian, is to encourage believers to think — independently — and pursue this personal relationship with Jesus Christ we talk on and on about, but rarely value for the priceless thing that it is. It is too easy to depend upon others — authors, pastors, elders, speakers, leaders — to tell us what to do and think, as opposed to wrestling, as Jacob did, with God.
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Earlier articles of interest to today’s topic include