How I quit being a lazy Christian
READ TIME: 6 MINUTES
As much as I like motivational speakers and their “START LIVING YOUR DREAMS TODAY” rhetoric, it’s equally as important to know what to quit, how to quit it, and how to work on the right things within each season of life. This next series of 3 blog posts are about things I’ve quit.
I’ve spent most of my life stirring the Christian Kool-Aid: attending church multiples times each week, volunteering, going to and leading Bible studies. But I realized in the last few years that I was still rather immature in my beliefs. Any questions or doubts I had, I would try to quickly pacify. If I couldn’t find a perfectly reasonable answer, I’d often rely on whatever teaching I learned from someone else.
Do you remember who you were at 6 years old? I had big ole coke-bottle glasses and a crooked bowl cut. I was THAT KID who asked “But why?” just enough times to see steam come out of teachers’ ears. Even Sunday School teachers.
I’ve always had a lot of questions… about everything.
I don’t know what happened between then and now, but I know I quit asking questions. The majority of my beliefs are cultural, systemic, or inherited. Essentially I “believe” because that’s what I was told. At some point I embraced common knowledge as a belief system because it’s safer and more settling than the endless “But why?” questions.
I started asking God to radically grow my faith and “call me out upon the waters”, and I quickly realized that the greatest hindrance in building faith is how lazy I can be in digging for truth. I settle for easy, safe little answers, but I want a life of great faith and risk and reward. I don’t need a Bachelor’s in Finance — humble brag — to tell you that equation doesn’t add up.
For me — and you — to reach these heights of faith, we’re going to have to take some risks. We’ll have to dig into our beliefs, dissect our ideas and ideals, do the messy work of asking “But why?” too many times, and reconstruct our beliefs on the solid foundation of God.
We need to quit being lazy Christians.
The three areas I’ve been digging into this past year are:
My relationship with God,
my relationship with God
I previously relinquished responsibility of my relationship with God and put it on other Christians to make it grow. Of course, there’s no relationship that will grow without the participation of both people. Theoretically, I knew that… But in practice, I was following speakers and tuning out from God’s voice, and because of it I was more obedient toward religious practices than to God Himself.
Just in case that sounds confusing… There’s a huge difference between being obedient to other people who say they hear from God and training yourself to hear from and be obedient to God. If there’s one thing I’m weary of now with popular Christianity, it’s that we diminish the value of the Holy Spirit in believers’ lives and elevate the black-and-white Bible — or at least the preacher’s interpretation of that. And I know we underplay the Spirit because many churches never explain The Spirit to believers nor disciple them to experience Him on their own. THAT’S A MAJOR PROBLEM!!
This past year, I decided to dig into who God is to me personally. What I arrived at was a deep well of the living water waiting to be found. Outside of other people’s interpretations of the Bible, I could hear God clearly speak to me and the Spirit explaining the Scriptures and bringing perspective on my life. I now have better clarity in my life’s direction and the focus for my current season.
The solution is tuning in
What kind of relationship would you have with your significant other if you checked in on him/her for an hour once per week? Not a great one, right? If we want rich, deep, abiding relationships with God, we need to invest the time and energy consistently. We need to talk to Him in fluent conversations. We need to listen. We need to read His Word with fervor. If that passion for the Bible is lacking, pray for it. God promises:
I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with all their heart.
Real talk: I go through spiritual dry spells, too. When you skip your devotional time for a week or a month, change the habit. Don’t let that become years or decades.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
Institutions allow us to be lazy, but the problem isn’t institutions. The problem is we listen indiscriminately as if these institutions should do our thinking for us. They shouldn’t. We should take everything we hear with a grain of salt. We should be discerning of the Spirit of God helping us to see wisdom through the fog of well-versed opinions, groupthink, and propaganda.
The problem I see again falls in our lack of awareness of the Spirit. We should be so in tune with the Spirit that when we hear something that violates what we know of God, we can bind it and remove it from our minds.
The solution is prayer
Pray with an open heart, ready to speak with honesty and to hear the eternal truth which transcends our honest in-the-moment feelings. Pray and listen to the Holy Spirit. Wait for His voice — which requires you to get away from your phone and any other distractions. When your mind wanders, allow those thoughts to pass through your conscience. Just wait and listen for the Spirit’s leading. Take a cue from King David:
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
The last area I’ve since recognized my laziness is as a friend. I realized I wasn’t being a good friend and I was using church as an after-thought for growing friendships. Since I’ve put forth real effort and energy this past year, I’ve actually grown closer to several friends with whom I previously held loose relationships.
We Christians idealize the phrase “love God, love people”, but in reality we’re human. We’re tired after a long work week. We’d much rather stay home alone & binge Netflix in our free time. We’re overly stimulated by ALL THE THINGS, and we’re burnt out by jobs that suck. Sound about right? It’s normal to be largely absent in our loved ones’ lives, whether it’s due to distance or to being overloaded.
However, this is an area God is guiding me to work on. For a long time I used church as a crutch for my laziness in friendships. If I happened to see some acquaintances at church repeatedly, we’d be friends. If I didn’t, no harm no foul. Unfortunately, this lazy approach to relationships is why, after someone reveals an addiction or mental health issues, you hear their friends and family say, “I just had no idea they were struggling.”
Today we have more access to more people than ever before, but we feel more disconnected than ever before.
The solution is intention
I think we could heal the world if everyone stopped caring about 1000 random acquaintances and celebrities online and used all that energy to deepen the connections within our closer circles.
I hope this point gives you pause to wonder, “How can I love my 2-3 closest friends better?”
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Are you in tune with the Spirit of God?
Is there an area of life that you need to quit (even just for a season) so you have more capacity to listen to God?
Are you prayers conversational or more like the dinner prayer? (God is great, God is good…)
How can you be more intentional with your 2-3 closest friends?
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