As you might imagine a pastor is connected with a lot of people and accounts online about religion. My feeds are filled with other religious people and with people critical of religious people. If there is one particular kind of thread that I see often it goes like this:
Christians only care about getting folks “saved.” The rampant hypocrisy of >the Christian is overwhelming. I love Christ but despise Christians.
To be clear, the particulars of this thread change, but that's the heart of it. I see it from Christians and non-Christians. I see it from theists and atheists.
This morning I was meditating on a prayer that had a line that struck me:
Help us not only to receive him (Christ) but to walk in him, depend on him, commune with him, follow him as dear children, imperfect, but still pressing forward, not complaining of labour, but valuing rest, not murmuring under trials, but thankful our state. And by so doing let us silence the ignorance of foolish men. (Valley of Vision, 395)
First, I'm consistently struck by the communal aspects of these prayers. There was a deep sense in the Puritans of their connection to one another. I know that these people were deeply flawed and in many ways they were the worst of their culture.
Yet, these words are beautiful, they resonate in my soul.
I need the daily reminder that to follow Christ is to be part of a “we” and not just an “I.” The body of Christ in all its beauty and all its ugliness is what I'm part of. There is no “just me and Jesus.”
To live out these prayer requests demands that I engage in community. If we are honest with ourselves we know that to walk, depend, commune, follow, press forward, not complain, not murmur, be thankful all requires us to lean on the broader community of faith. We will fail if we seek to walk this road alone.
Am I inviting others in? Will I choose to lean on the body of Christ or will I pretend like I have no need to do so?
Another way these words resonate with me is in the fact that they go well beyond “getting saved.” This prayer opens our imaginations and hearts to a deeper reality.
We must go beyond the surface.
It is a mystical and contemplative call that reflects the words of Paul in Colossians,
Therefore, if you were raised with Christ, look for the things that are above where Christ is sitting at God’s right side. Think about the things above and not things on earth. You died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
If our lives are “hidden with Christ in God,” then when people see us they should see a reflection of Jesus.
My life too often falls well short of this reality.
I often don't #LoveWell. I am often selfish. I am too often judgmental and angry with those who I ought to love and extend grace to. I am too often worried about my outward appearance and the way others think of me. I care too much about me.
Oh, that we, together, would live lives that our hid with Christ in God!