Sunday, June 25, 2006

When You Are "Playing Church" Christianity Doesn't Work.

After four years of trying to handle a very self-righteous person (in my own way), I left my church and religion all together. Here, I'd paid my tithes, come to all called meetings and put up with a lot of guff and I ain't getting blessed! All that stuff was done with my body, but, in my heart, I RESENTED it all! I was "playing church".

This is a theater production, staring me, with all my fellow Christians as my audience. My goal was to get acclamation: "Wow, you are sure dedicated,", "You are sure spiritual." and a general level of appreciation reserved for, oh, say Saint Paul of Tarsus! (Perhaps a pride issue?) Yes, I was for-real a Christian, but I was still deeply lost in the desert of not really trying to follow God's directions.

When your ego is under control, you can slide right around self-righteous people. They engage you in a conversation with the goal of proving that they are a better Christian, then you are. A problem person tried getting in my face and screaming at me, that I was just making excuses for something she was doing properly. I sincerely thanked her for caring so much about me. I also thanked her for the information. She literally walked away from me, and hasn't bothered me since that last conversation. I was no longer taking the bait. Who cares what someone THINKS of me. God evaluation is the one that matters.

When I finally came back to church, I did change churches, but stayed in the same denomination. My new church is full of Christians who have faced some very difficult life issues. It is not a question of "if" someone is in ICU, but "who" is in ICU. The core group of the church has leaned how to really try and live their faith. They try very hard to actually walk their talk. They refer to it as "selling out to Jesus". From that point onward, you will seriously try to obey God, even when you are alone. In other words: "Character is what you do when you don't think anyone is watching." Oh! I had to say "ouch" on that one. My private life and my public church life were universes apart. "Oooh, I say 'ouch'!"

I began to actually try and get to know this God. Oh, I knew tons of "facts", but unlike Moses, I had no clue as to His ways. I said a simple prayer that galvanized my life. "God let me learn to know you, like I would any other friend." I wasn't being disrespectful, but my private prayer life was non-existent. My 'pray with a partner' prayer life was flawless. Back to "playing church", again.

I forced myself to sit before God for an hour each day and NOT petition Him. For me to not talk for that long is truly a divinely implanted miracle. My flesh will talk, even when I know nothing about the subject.

I began to sense God was indeed a real presence. He had a 'feel', just like all our other friends have a 'feel'. They all have unique personalities. I then realized God seemed to actually 'like' me. Yes, I know the scriptures - "God so loved the world..." but I'm speaking of meeting Him in prayer, not by reading His Word.

I then began to find a new attitude of willingness springing up inside, when it came to "obeying". Before, "don't drink (alcohol)" meant: "don't drink alcohol in front of anyone from church, but in secret, GO FOR IT!" Alcohol hadn't caused me any trouble for at least five years. Even my HMO felt I didn't have an issue around my small consumption of alcohol. But, the denomination I'm in really believes it is off-limits, like sex outside of marriage. Don't do it AT ALL. The operative instruction is NO! So, I went home and poured down the sink, $10 of some tasty liquor I loved to have in my coffee. I haven't had any alcohol since the day I made that commitment. No, angels didn't fly around me singing Praises to God. But I no longer felt like I was living a double life.

I will still go to a bar, if that is all that is open, like in some hotels. But soft drinks, water and coffee are served differently when not doctored with alcohol. If someone from church sees me, I know I'm not lying - my breath won't betray me either!

After living this undivided lifestyle for about six months, I've discovered something wonderful. All the blessings I thought I wanted are happening. I am admired, praised publicly and am popular within my church. I now am a bit nervous about all of this. My heart turns to God, to keep me from getting it mixed up on who is doing what. I am getting me more and more out of the way to let God do things through me. I can't take credit for a song I sing, a prayer I pray, or anything else I accomplish.

All these things are gifts God prepared for me to participate in before the worlds were formed. He gets the credit. Since I know I can easily return to being really prideful, I pray for help from God not to get trapped into thinking I’m so wonderful.I truly understand that my willingness to give all of my life and myself to Jesus makes it possible for God to enter so strongly into my life. I now know levels of thankfulness I didn't even know existed before. At this time in my life, I'm reaping success. It won't always be that way. Paul suffered a lot, who am I kidding to believe I won't suffer, as Jesus said we would? But learning to not live a lie, has given me the clarity of thought to trust God's ways more, and the advice of the world less. I am thankful that I'm beginning to learn how to really "do" Gods Word and not just read it.

1 comment:

MacPhilly said...

You're doing good :-) Keep looking at him and you'll continue to be OK too!

Oh yah, and ain't it so true that when we focus on Him that he gives us the desires of our hearts - but without all the baggage of the bad motivation!

Shalom!