Many people believe there isn’t enough time in the day to do the Christian life as described from our Pulpits most Sundays. Before conversion (asking Jesus to forgive their sins, accepting His forgiveness, and making Jesus their Lord), their days were full. With work, family, yard work, recreation and hobbies, they were seldom left at loose ends with nothing to do. The more fun activities were used to “feed their souls” so they could survive their more mundane and distasteful tasks and responsibilities. So now, how can they be expected to fit daily Scripture reading, study, fellowship, meditation, memorization, worship, discipleship and regular weekly church attendance into what was already a very busy life? Is today’s world just too hectic to sustain such an idealized Christian lifestyle? Isn’t it much harder to live a complete Christian life now that our lives are so much busier? Sadly, many people and their churches have decided it is no longer possible.
Let’s look back to when such a Christian lifestyle was considered normative. Only as far back as when our parents were growing up, and certainly when all of our grandparents were young, life was certainly slower. What was a typical life like back then? Most everyone got up with the sun. In town and out on the farm there were chores to be done. Wood, or coal was to be hauled for heating and cooking. More was often gathered as storage for next winter. Water was hauled from somewhere and, because of no refrigeration, food was either hunted and gathered, or purchased almost every day. School kids had many of these chores to do before their long walk to school, and more chores in the evening to be completed before dinner. Homework was usually done before bedtime. Travel to work, the market, or back and forth to the fields was also time consuming, and often made more difficult by weather conditions.
To all this, a new convert was expected by their new Christian community to immerse themselves into a church culture that included discipleship, fellowship, worship, personal devotions, study, memorization, etc., etc. In-fact, early Christians understood that to be a disciple was to “walk with” their Lord through, and embedded within, everyday life.
I have often heard people say “It must have been easier to nourish one’s spiritual growth and faith with all these activities, because life was so much slower.” Of course it was slower… Everything took more time to do! Travel, turning up the heat, washing dishes, clothes, etc. Even bathing required hauling and heating all the water by hand. A simple truth is: people of previous generations had much less free time than any of us. We also know converts to Christianity, somehow, added to their dusk to dawn existence all the activities of a vibrant growing faith in Christ.
So how did they do it? How can we do it today? How can Christians fill their already full lives with all the “good things” we hear encouraged from the pulpit on Sunday? Jesus gives us some good starting points: Spend some time on each of the following passage as you ponder this further.
Luke 8: (1-15) 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature (NIV).
Luke 12: (13-34) 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (NIV)
Matthew 6: (19–34) 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.(NIV)
How do we live a first-century Christianity while stuck in a twenty-first century world? By focusing on Kingdom activities, and relationships, and taking that kind of constant connection into the rest of our daily lives. As I wrote in my last post, Christ didn’t come to create a dual world where we scurry back and forth between a temporal life (of work, recreation, chores, and family), and that small portion of our time we carve out for church, fellowship, discipleship, etc.
Christ came to set us free to live fully committed Christian lives infused into our temporal activities in a way that creates Kingdom opportunities in places we only saw duty and drudgery. When Christ instructs us to be salt in our world, He wasn’t intending us to keep it in a shaker, reserved only for Sundays.
Discuss these things with me. How can all the “good Christian” activities be enfolded into our lives without our becoming unfaithful to our life’s responsibilities? Where can it begin for someone sensing Christ’s call to be more authentic in their faith? If you have found success in this, share your strategies, and patterns. If you struggle, share what gets in your way, and accept suggestions from others who have traveled that same path before you.
Blessings, Pastor Tim