A Different Life
This spring I met a woman I will call Betty. She has two kids, works, and attends church. As we have gotten to know each other I realized she doesn’t see any connection between her faith or perhaps more aptly her church attendance and her life. One situation seems a ticket to heaven, an insurance policy for the afterlife. The other one is, well, her life.
And I began to wonder how often that is the case. We don’t seem to connect the faith we have with the life we live. In our mind they are two separate situations. We are after all, not heavy sinners (as though God somehow rates such separation from him). We are striving to do our best, to live a “good” life and provide for those within our care. And yet…I wonder are we missing the life God has in mind?
You see Betty is living life on her own. Though she attends church, God is someone out there, not someone with her here. Perhaps she has prayed for this or that and perhaps, at times, God has said yes, but basically she believes she is on her own. She doesn’t recognize that God desires to engage her in her life. It is within the clutter of ordinary living that God offers invitations for training, a training that removes our old self and acquires the new one. This new creation will reflect the character, the very nature of Jesus Christ.
This seems an astonishing statement to make, that I could actually become like Christ would be if he were I. But that is what Christ offers when he says the “the Kingdom of God is near”. In this statement that Jesus repeats again and again he is inviting us to enter into kingdom living beginning here and now. Yes, now while we live here on earth. For you see, the kingdom of God is not a location, but a state of being. As we train with God to live as Christ lives we begin living in his kingdom.
This is radical thinking from our radical God. Changing how we view our life here will change our relationship with God, our relationship with others and even our relationship with ourselves. It is not a change that occurs overnight or even within a few years, but it is an ongoing training process to shed our old self with all its burdens and acquire the new self that reflects the character, the very nature of Christ.
Building an interactive relationship with God will produce increasingly intimate fellowship, a fellowship that will transform us. Participating in this radical shift with God we train to recognize his presence, connect with him in simple conversation and reflect on the relationships and events of our ordinary life. It is in everyday situations such as doing the dishes, changing the diapers, earning the living, struggling with the finances, grieving the losses, celebrating the birth that we encounter an ever-present God. These mundane situations and relationships become the training tools he uses to form us into the image bearers we are meant to be.
Though I don’t really know how much Biblical knowledge Betty has, I do know she lacks this relationship with God. It is she and she alone who lives her life. God offers a different life, a different way of living that occurs as a result of living our ordinary life in relationship with Him.
Why? Because God’s love knows no bounds, no conditions. His love exists because he exists. It is who he is and the objects of his love are those he has created. That would be you and me. And his desire is for our good and for our growth.
“As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, ‘Why do you think God created us?’ Responding to his own question, he said, ‘God created us not because God is lonely and needs us, but because God love us and wants us.’ ”
Trevor Hudson, Beyond Loneliness: The Gift of God’s Friendship (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 2016), 35.