Lead a Child in the Way She Should Go... Part 2 of 2

In the church I grew up in, not only were we encouraged to read the Bible on our own, but we were also encouraged to have a personal relationship with God that was vibrant and growing. Even if that relationship was struggling and we were wrestling with God, the struggle was welcome too. On Sunday nights after our high school choir, "One Heart", finished practicing, we would all troop over across the parking lot and attend the Sunday night services. We weren't pentecostal, but you could raise your hands when you sang and show your emotion. After the sermon, the pastor would sometimes invite anyone up who needed to talk something over with God up to the alter steps that lined the front. You could bring someone to pray with you or someone might even join you there. If you cried, no problem, there were Kleenexes waiting for you. On occasion, we would also have people in the service give their testimonies. In fact, when our choir went on tour every year, two different students would give their testimonies at every concert. We were taught to stand up and express our faith and that our relationship with God was a journey worth talking about.

So perhaps you can understand my confusion in a recent conversation when people were discussing that the reason for religion is to give people answers for the way things are. I grant you, they may have meant something entirely different by "religion" than I do, but is not the point of religion the belief in God himself? Isn't religion about knowing Him? In another conversation, someone said that the moral concepts of the religion he practiced growing up is so much a part of him that he doesn't participate anymore as if the moral concepts was what it was all about. How can we practice religion and entirely miss the whole point of coming to know God? Is that why so many people are spiritual but not religious? They want something to believe in, the unseen dimension if you will, but without the legalistic moral code and unsatisfying answers of theological judgement.

In my own walk with God, I have really struggled with the idea that if I stepped across some line, I would suddenly be out of favor with God. I was so concerned with how I lived my life, I forgot to live my life. I learned God gives freedom, not chains, love, not dogma. But while we walk free, we need to remember there are still hard places, dangers we could get ourselves into. The relationship is the entire point, but in that relationship, God is there beside us, helping us along, letting us know what to avoid, how to conduct ourselves so we can enjoy the really important and long lasting things in life. He guides for our good, not to make us conform so we all look the same. His instructions are for our benefit, they are not there to weigh us down but to lift us up. As humans, we see from such a small perspective and knowing God's is so much wider, we can rely on His/Her perspective to help us through where we might fall on our own. But we listen not to make it through life, but because we love God and God loves us. It's for that dynamic and growing relationship, the love shared that we breathe, and blink, and grow each day.

My suspicion is that some people look at the world from their beliefs and see it in black and white, sinner and saved and see the world in judgement. But I think a better way to see things is in color, through the eyes of God, over filling with love and passion for His people. Everything else comes after that. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).

365-09 #209

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Walking the Sea: Lead a Child in the Way She Should Go... Part 2 of 2

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lead a Child in the Way She Should Go... Part 2 of 2

In the church I grew up in, not only were we encouraged to read the Bible on our own, but we were also encouraged to have a personal relationship with God that was vibrant and growing. Even if that relationship was struggling and we were wrestling with God, the struggle was welcome too. On Sunday nights after our high school choir, "One Heart", finished practicing, we would all troop over across the parking lot and attend the Sunday night services. We weren't pentecostal, but you could raise your hands when you sang and show your emotion. After the sermon, the pastor would sometimes invite anyone up who needed to talk something over with God up to the alter steps that lined the front. You could bring someone to pray with you or someone might even join you there. If you cried, no problem, there were Kleenexes waiting for you. On occasion, we would also have people in the service give their testimonies. In fact, when our choir went on tour every year, two different students would give their testimonies at every concert. We were taught to stand up and express our faith and that our relationship with God was a journey worth talking about.

So perhaps you can understand my confusion in a recent conversation when people were discussing that the reason for religion is to give people answers for the way things are. I grant you, they may have meant something entirely different by "religion" than I do, but is not the point of religion the belief in God himself? Isn't religion about knowing Him? In another conversation, someone said that the moral concepts of the religion he practiced growing up is so much a part of him that he doesn't participate anymore as if the moral concepts was what it was all about. How can we practice religion and entirely miss the whole point of coming to know God? Is that why so many people are spiritual but not religious? They want something to believe in, the unseen dimension if you will, but without the legalistic moral code and unsatisfying answers of theological judgement.

In my own walk with God, I have really struggled with the idea that if I stepped across some line, I would suddenly be out of favor with God. I was so concerned with how I lived my life, I forgot to live my life. I learned God gives freedom, not chains, love, not dogma. But while we walk free, we need to remember there are still hard places, dangers we could get ourselves into. The relationship is the entire point, but in that relationship, God is there beside us, helping us along, letting us know what to avoid, how to conduct ourselves so we can enjoy the really important and long lasting things in life. He guides for our good, not to make us conform so we all look the same. His instructions are for our benefit, they are not there to weigh us down but to lift us up. As humans, we see from such a small perspective and knowing God's is so much wider, we can rely on His/Her perspective to help us through where we might fall on our own. But we listen not to make it through life, but because we love God and God loves us. It's for that dynamic and growing relationship, the love shared that we breathe, and blink, and grow each day.

My suspicion is that some people look at the world from their beliefs and see it in black and white, sinner and saved and see the world in judgement. But I think a better way to see things is in color, through the eyes of God, over filling with love and passion for His people. Everything else comes after that. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).

365-09 #209

Labels: , ,

3 Comments:

At August 4, 2009 at 5:43 PM , Anonymous Wee Dragon said...

But I think a better way to see things is in color, through the eyes of God, over filling with love and passion for His people. Everything else comes after that. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).

I love this...thank you. I think this is a big part of the difference that I feel since leaving a particular form of Evangelicalism...when you open up to seeing things bigger than our own narrow black and white perspectives, we see the beauty of G-d. I will remember this analogy.

 
At August 5, 2009 at 8:14 AM , Blogger Jan Lyn said...

Hello Sarah,

You speak many of my thoughts here. I too, love your analogy of seeing things in color and your courage to give a Biblical reference within. I think so much that we as Friends come from various backgrounds and often 'hurt' backgrounds which can blind our eyes to the grace and freedom that is offered us. Thank you for this piece and for speaking up.
Blessings to you,
Jan Lyn

 
At August 5, 2009 at 8:18 AM , Blogger Jan Lyn said...

This speaks my thoughts so well. How great an analogy to see through the eyes of God in color. I appreciate your courage to include scripture within as well.

So many times I have thought, we as Friends come from such varied backgrounds, but commonly 'painful' experiences that blind our view of God in several ways. I think it is a beautiful thing when one can see the GRACE and FREEDOM within. Thank you for this piece.

Blessings,
Jan Lyn

 

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