On a daily basis, hundreds of questions come to mind about this faith that I profess. As a pastor, sometimes it is hard to admit that there are times that I need to be intentional about my spiritual growth. This type of progression doesn’t come naturally, because I think humanity’s natural tendency is to follow that which is comfortable and easy. “Comfortable and easy” has me written all over it. Even though this is the case, there are frequent occasions when I need to get real with myself and ask the hard questions. Allow me to take the time to invite you into my own growth process for a few minutes…It is possible you may have to ask yourself these questions too.
Among hundreds of others, I think there are 7 Questions Christians Need to Ask Themselves.
1. Why Do I Follow Jesus?
I often think about the stories in the Bible about the amazing miracles Jesus accomplished. Whether it was turning water into wine, healing a sick person, or making food appear when supplies were limited, each time He performed these feats His “fan base” would grow considerably. People would follow Him around and immediately come to His side when He showed them something incredible. This was great, but I can imagine that many followed in hopes that He would do these great things for them. In today’s Christian culture, there are many who simply follow Jesus because they want to have their eternal destiny “locked in”. I am not diminishing this concept, but I fear that if this is the only reason we follow Jesus then our faith becomes about what Jesus has or can do for us instead of the light we should be in the darkness.
2. What Gives Me Joy?
So many Christians get the concept of happiness and joy mixed up. In our most immature state, it is easy to want to “abandon ship” when a series of tribulations come our way. I often get discouraged about things that simply do not affect the flow of the kingdom AND, I tend to forget that God has answered much bigger prayers in the past. I have seen miracles and He has spoken to me. Wretched, poor, nothing-to-offer; me. What brings me joy is a delight in knowing that the same loving force that created the universe has everything under control, and loves me…even when I am experiencing temporary chaos.
3. What Am I Doing to Grow?
Do you think farmers get upset because their crops need water and sunlight? Do you think they feel as if it is legalistic to assume that their livestock need fed in order to eventually feed the multitudes? Of course not! A good farmer does what it takes to make sure they are planting and harvesting as much as they can each year. They take advantage of the fertility of their land so that their yield will be bountiful. When a pastor stands up in front of his or her congregation and talks about “legalistic” things like spiritual disciplines (scripture reading, giving, community worship, prayer, etc) they are simply teaching their people how to effectively feed their soul. They are teaching the farmers to farm and experience their own personal harvest. Do we, as Christians, rely on one hour every week as the sole means for our spiritual growth, or does it carry throughout the week?
4. Have I Sacrificed Anything to Follow Christ?
Now, please hear me when I say that this is not a question I publicly ask to send the accuser your way. I think it is a genuinely innocent question that all need to ask themselves. Whether it be in the areas of time, talent, or treasure can we really think of a time in which we had to release something we valued to God? Sometimes we think that we are being persecuted because someone made fun of our prayer time before our lunch break, or we see the direction the government is going in a certain political area…but…what would our faith look like if it was all we had left? Many do operate this way. Just something to ponder…
5. Do I Value Comfort Over Christ?
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people complain about the taste of the communion wafers at various churches I have attended. Really?!?!…Really?!?! We are remembering a time in which Jesus just got done saying “goodbye for now” to His followers and indicated death was coming, AND for some reason we complain because of the taste of a cracker. Okay…that part of my rant is complete, but in all seriousness, when God asks us to become uncomfortable for His purposes, how do we react? Do we disobey, or give our all?
6. How Do I Treat Non-believers?
It may come as a surprise to many, but non-Christians have no reason to act like Christians. Yep, you heard correctly. So, with this as an understanding, why do we base our judgement of non-Christian behavior using Christian values? Granted, I believe that Christ-following is the source of an abundant life, but we can not expect people who don’t know Him to fully live as if they do… God has sent the Church into the world to serve these people regardless. They are human. They are loved by God. We were in their shoes too at one point. Do we treat people who don’t know Christ with compassion, understanding, and love? Or, do we spit venom at them to inflict mortal wounds? Sure, we must share Christ with all, and be the light of Jesus in this dark world but do we really accomplish this when people flee from our sight when they learn our affiliation?
7. How Important is My Faith?
Assuming that mostly Christians are reading this blog today, the question I have is about how we view the priority of our spiritual life. Ask yourself if your faith is a hobby, habit, or a hunger. When we look at things in this way, it will help us honestly evaluate our relationship with God. Whether it comes to church attendence, giving, prayer, or general growth, can we honestly say that we have a hunger for the things God considers a priority. Is our faith a hobby that we take part in when we don’t have anything else to do or when everything is running smoothly? Is it a habit we have always taken part in, but there is no real meaning attached? Or, do we have a deep hunger for God’s spirit to guide, grow, and send us daily?
When we take the time to honestly evaluate our faith, things can get rather hairy. It may cause us to *gulp* change some things and go a different direction. This is just how it works. Trust God to reveal the sharp edges He wants to chisel as you ask these questions.
Keep Him the center. The world is at stake. Hell hates it when you do.
Love you all