Thursday, 2 June 2011

Being a Christian - What do I get out of it?

Someone asked me this morning (see the comments on this post) what I get out of being a Christian (to be more precise, the question was what do I get out of God, but this is how I've interpreted it).

The answer is, I get all sorts of things, but I thought I'd try and cover a few here. I realise not all my readers will share my beliefs but to me these things are very real and so for now I will dispense with saying things like, "I think", or, "in my opinion".

This is how it seems to me and this is my experience:

First of all, the best and most important thing I get out of this is God Himself! God created and sustains the whole Universe and yet is interested in, and has time for me! Not only does He have time for me though, He loves me passionately! This is not something I always find it easy to get my head round, but I get powerful glimpses sometimes and - in a good way - it shakes me to the core!
My relationship with God is central to a lot of what I am and what I do with my life. I know lots of people - Christian and not - who can be very loving sometimes, but I don't know anyone who displays the passionate self-giving love I see in Jesus. This love inspires and motivates me - gives me something to aim for - but also encourages, supports and forgives me when I fail.

Prayer and worship - which from the outside perhaps look to some people like meaningless rituals, designed perhaps to try to win God's approval? - to me are usually a delight. I don't pray or worship to get God's approval, I do these things because I have His approval (unwarranted as that might be) and because it's a delight to spend time with Him. Prayer is a mystery I don't have room to try and explore properly here, but it changes things, and it's a 2-way thing. It involves listening to God and working with Him, because our input matters to Him and He wants to involve us in His purposes.

Worship too, is a 2-way thing. It isn't just telling God how wonderful He is - it's a reaching out to God who sweeps you up in His embrace, lifts your spirits heaven-ward and raises your perspective above and beyond the day to day joys and struggles of life.

Beyond these immediate benefits, being a Christian also gives me hope for the future. I believe in a God who is good and who will one day straighten everything out. He has allowed evil and suffering to exist in His world, but only for a time - these things are temporary and are not destined to have the last word. There will be a day when evil has had its chance, done its worst, been fully shown up for what it really is, and is defeated once and for all. Being a Christian means being part of defeating evil now - not through superior might or aggression though, but the way Jesus did it - through self-giving sacrificial love. Being a Christian gives me hope that it's worth working for a better world - even if the fruits aren't immediately visible, even if my efforts seem futile - because Jesus' resurrection is a foretaste of the future, a sign that good will triumph and that one day I will be a part of it!

Being a Christian also gives me a sense of perspective. It does give a sense of meaning to my life, and it's the only central meaning that really makes sense to me in the end which is love. I'm pretty selfish sometimes and find love difficult, but I've encountered in God someone who really is truly loving and gives me hope that I can learn to be the same. Love, in my view makes sense of everything. If people are loved then they are valuable - intrinsically, for who they are, and life has meaning. Without love, it's ultimately just a competition to survive - and perhaps to get the most possible pleasure out of your short, pointless existence. Love means we're all worth the same - because it's about who we are and not about what we can contribute. If I don't think you're worthy of love then I'm in trouble, because there's nothing intrinsically different about us. We all have our faults, strengths and weaknesses. So in my mind, love is the ideal, but true, unselfish love is not something to which humans naturally aspire. It is at the very heart and nature of God though - or if it isn't, then I think we are all ultimately lost anyway...

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you don't have an account, and you want to leave your name, select "Name/URL" from the "Comment as" drop list below. Then just enter your name (you don't have to supply a URL) and click "Continue".