Wednesday, November 2, 2011

For yourself vs By yourself

We can't copy someone else's journey.

While God is the same, an absolute Truth, and what he has done for us, he has done for ALL of us...we can't simply copy the way someone else does it and expect it to work for us.

God works individually in each of us. And there are many things you will need to work out for yourself. Something that is right for one person, may not be for you. You have different talents and gifts. You also have different weaknesses and problems.

If you see other Christian's drinking wine without problem, and yet you know that alcohol causes problems for you - saying, 'well they do it so it must be ok' is only going to get you into trouble.

And simply following a rule someone else has set without actually understanding why, or without a change in attitude or in your heart, does little good in the long run.

If I say to a child "Don't touch the oven", with no explanation, that may work for a little while. But if the child never believes for themselves that it is actually hot and touching will be a bad thing, one day they are going to want to touch it for themselves to find out.

You are not a passive passenger in your faith.

"work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12)

Don't take this as permission to ignore good advice from others or have a pick and choose faith - like I was tempted to think of it when I was younger and (more) rebellious. But it does mean there are things to be sought after, things to be worked out and learned and understood. And you need to do this for yourself. No one else can hand you a close relationship with God, or give you a recipe to follow from their lives. Your faith takes active participation on your part.

But for yourself is not the same as by yourself. By yourself means isolation, carrying the burden alone, and often a dangerous lack of perspective and accountability.

God of course needs to be involved, or what are we doing?

But God gave us other people for a reason. Taking another person's story as an exact to do list won't work, but neither will ignoring other's story because it is different to your own.

Learning from advice, leadership, friendship, example, teaching - these things all add to and guide your own journey with God.

Don't fall into the trap of "No one understands me. I'm not going to listen to them because they just don't get it." or "They couldn't handle that, but I'm stronger than that." We are all different and you will never find anyone who exactly 'gets' everything about you - but what you are looking for in finding people you can trust to have influence in your life is godliness. The commonality of a desire to pursue God is a powerful connector, no matter the other differences.

When we set ourselves apart from, away from or above others the only yardstick by which we measure things becomes our own. Everything seems right if you wrote the rule book.

Don't wait for someone else to work out your faith for you. Be active and pursue God. And remember that in pursuit of God, a relational God, other people will be and must be a part of it.

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