Sunday, October 11, 2009

Making sure you get yours..

***A note for my non-Christian friends: The following might seem a bit more 'hyperspiritual' than previous posts, but I hope it will still offer an engaging perspective for you. Please feel free to share your thoughts***

I've been thinking a lot about what it means to live as a Christian lately. It's fair to say that I've been pretty focused on the topic for the last two and half years, but I know I am still learning. And I've been thinking about it in terms of some of the political debate that has been circling around.

What does it actually mean to live as a Christian who is fully devoted and committed to Christ?From what I can tell, it has to do with a lot of letting go.

If, as Christians, our goal is to live like Christ, then we have to study how He lived. In the time of His ministry, He had no home, and lived largely by the kindness of friends and neighbors. He lived a life of consistent service, never asking to be compensated, and He lived a life where the very people He served ultimately sent Him to His death. When He was on trial, He didn't speak in His own defense, and never demanded that His rights be upheld.

So what does this mean for us? A more appropriate question is what does this mean for me, as I can't promise that everyone will come to the same conclusion.

I have to remember that everything I have, the socks on my feet, the food in my pantry, my degree and the breath in my lungs is a gift from God. Because everything I have is a gift, I do not have to demand anything from anyone. I will be cared for, I will be protected, regardless of whether I receive the proper respect my position affords or the paycheck my degree requires. Because God has loved me and provided generously for me, I am compelled to share that with others whenever and however I can. To this end, I will serve who I can as well as I can. This is, I believe, excellently lived out through things like the Compassion Connect clinics.

In the midst of the country being deep in the health care debate, I submit that it is not up to me to determine who is deserving of health care and who is not. Jesus famously used the metaphor of the sick to point to honoring him ("I was sick, and you cared for me"). I believe our actions, for good or ill, have deeper impacts than we realize. God's love and care for us are not dependent on them, but he can take our meager offerings of service, and use them for far greater things.

I don't believe that this means that every Christian must liquidate their assets and begin to live on the street. It doesn't mean we should fear success, or that having money is bad. But it does mean that we hold what we have lightly, understanding that it is not ours, and should it be taken from us, we will not be without hope. So, we serve, we give and we learn, slowly, to put others ahead of ourselves.

I hope it's clear that I am learning just as much and just as slowly as anyone--I hardly wish to submit myself as an example. Jesus' call regularly worries me, because I love my life so much. But I know that in losing it, whatever form that takes, I will gain a greater value of Christ and being like him, and what could be better?

I believe a large part of this comes from where we take our identity. I want my primary identity to be that of a Christian. Any other identities, past, present or future, will fall, I hope, under that. Where is your primary identity? Is it as a Christian? An American? A spouse? A parent? Does your identity come from your job, or from what you choose to consume? Whatever determines your primary identity will determine how you live.

I've been thinking about writing this blog for several days, and I've postponed it because it made me nervous. I understand that the views I am putting forth may not resonate with everyone, and may even frustrate some. But I believe I must say them. I'd like to hear your thoughts on this as well...

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