see-thatgirl asked: I’ve been in a Christian school in China for 4 years. For the last 2, I’ve felt something’s off. The school feels dead! I finally realized it’s because the spiritual fire here dimmed too much. We no longer have prayer group, worship time, Bible study; the whole vibe changed. I thought this dry state was irredeemable, but God’s changed me so much in the past few months, and He’s been compelling me to look at this situation in a different way, and urging me to become a servant/leader when the school year begins… My concerns are, is anyone going to come aboard with this enthusiasm? How should I begin? What should I be mindful of? What else do I need? [edited for length]
Unka Glen: answered: Spiritual fire and and enthusiasm aren’t useful in and of themselves, it’s only when we have fire and enthusiasm as a result of real spiritual growth that we’re really getting somewhere. So it’s about looking for the right kind of growth in the right area that will unleash that passion. Trying to stir people up on emotions won’t do much, and it won’t last for long either.
Ya know, they say all great revivals start with confession. I’d say, perhaps more to the point, that all great revivals started when people stopped acting Christian and started being real. Being authentic and dropping the pretense has a way of immediately unclenching everyone’s emotional and spiritual butt-cheeks, and allowing us to finally relax and enjoy ourselves.
This isn’t about morbidly and publicly confessing everything you’ve done wrong, this about dropping the act. Letting people know you struggle with things just the same way they do. It’s letting go of the image of yourself as a put-together, lined-out Christian who is ready to be admired, and asserting an image of a work in progress.
Like it or not, it’s time to admit that we all started out as Christians putting our best foot forward, and that escalated into trying to convince everyone that we’re some kind of a super-Christian, and fixating on the image we present to other believers. That focus on our image steals attention from making actual spiritual changes, and what’s worse, we somehow start to think that God is focused on these same image-related factors.
1 Samuel 16:7b says “…The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Below is an example of the kind of attitude that can trigger this breakdown of hypocritical and legalistic Christianity, and signal a wave of more passionate, and enthusiastic (and more authentic) Christianity. …And recognize, I’ve said every word of this from the pulpit myself.
— I am a Christian. That means I was so bad a sinner that there was no way for me to get into Heaven unless the Son of God Himself took my punishment for me. When I accepted this payment for my sins, I was still a sinner, I was forgiven, but still a sinner.
— I’m still a sinner today, and I will be until the day I die. I don’t expect to wake up any day soon in a state of perfection. I can live with being a sinner. If you can’t, too bad for you. Don’t try and put your drama about that on me.
— I’m changing from the inside-out. Whereas most Christians act a little holier than they really are, in my case, my actions are usually lagging a little behind my actual progress. I’m sorry if that freaks you out, but what you see is what you get. It ain’t pretty, but it’s real. My changes aren’t part of an act I’m putting on to impress you, they’re part of an inner transformation taking place at the very core of my being.
— As such, I don’t really care what you think about all that. You won’t have a vote on what happens to me on Judgement Day, so you don’t get a vote now. I’m seriously working hard on this thing, and if you can’t see that, it’s because you don’t want to see it. I have serious respect for my people who are working as hard as I am, and we know what’s up, and that’s enough for me.
— I’m a sinner, and you need to adjust your expectations accordingly. I’m not qualified to speak to you about Jesus because of how holy I act, I’m qualified because if you look at the part of the mountain you’re currently climbing, you’ll see the imprint of my knees and fingernails. You’ll see where I slid back a time or two as well. You can learn all about that on your own the hard way, or you can just get the inside story from me.
— I love you. I’ve been on my knees before God concerning you. I’ve asked God to break my heart for the things that breaks your heart. I don’t have all the answers, but one thing is for sure: I’m with you, and I ain’t going anywhere. Together we’ll eventually figure this thing out. I promise.
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