I prefer the term, Christian Life, better, but I figured some people would understand more if I said spiritual life. Let it be known that I am equating the two. I am thinking about this after talking to a friend of mine this morning who sent me an MP3 of a program Greg Koukl of STR did where he interviewed J.P. Moreland in the last hour on the book “The Lost Virtue of Happiness.” (Definitely one I want to buy now.) For those interested, the date of the podcast was March 26th, 2006. You can become a member at STR for free and listen to it. (And for the record, Greg Koukl is a really great guy and I highly recommend STR resources.)
I was quite comforted by what Koukl and Moreland both said. Moreland spoke of how someone was a great pianist and while this guy was practicing, Moreland was watching TV. Hey! I can relate to that! Koukl spoke of how when he read in Moreland’s book about a survey to measure your spiritual life, he didn’t want to take it because it wouldn’t come out good! I can relate to that!
Moreland also spoke much about his personal struggles and issues throughout his life including a time of deep depression where he was even on anti-depressants. For my readers who want my opinion on the topic, I am in favor of anti-depressants because I do believe there are bodily problems at times that can be affected by our moods and anti-depressants can help correct that. I’ll also say that I’ve been on anti-depressants before.
When you go into ministry, whether you like it or not, for good or for worse, people automatically make judgments about you. Skeptics will assume that you’re someone who’s brain-dead often and buying into this religious nonsense and you’re going because God told you to and you talk to him every day as he’s on your speed-dial.
That’s not too hard to deal with as problematic as it is.
Christian assumptions are worse.
Christians assume you are one who has it all together. You’re so intimate with God that you know the perfect thing to say every time. If you’re an apologist like I am, all your answers are perfect dug out of years of research. You’re always on the up and up. You don’t struggle against the flesh. Your prayer life is rich and vibrant. You open your Bible with joy every day and find hidden pearls every single day. Everything makes sense to you.
Now it might not be the case for all of those, but some of them I suspect get in there at times.
I wish to set the record straight for me.
My prayer life first. Can you really call it that? I’m lucky if I can focus for fifteen minutes. I’ll go in for prayer and in about 2 or 3 minutes think I’ve said all I can. This is why I was thankful for Koukl and Moreland suggesting minute prayers and praying throughout the day maybe when things get stressful, “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner.”
That I can do! I was doing it today and it does seem to help me focus more. I was pleased to hear two apologists I respect in the faith talking about the difficulties they have with a prayer life. (In fact, Greg Koukl and I have spoken about this before on his program and I was pleased to hear him say he needed to improve his prayer life also.)
Bible study? Not something I can really focus on. It’s like I read the text and think “Where do I go from here?” My ideas from Scripture come mainly from reading the text and knowing it well and just bouncing around ideas in my head and then seeing what someone else says, hearing what a speaker says, reading in a book a comment, and then seeing that idea hit the Scripture in my mind and lo and behold, insight!
For my focus, I could use a lot more! Sometimes, doing the blog each night can be a chore. I have papers to write for school and I can put them off. I have books to read and I can put them off. I have so many things I need to do and I keep putting them off. I come home from work and I’d rather do something enjoyable. On my day off, it’s a day off from work so why spend it working?
I hear people speak about me as if I have a deep love for Jesus. I wish I did at times. I probably do, but oddly enough, I don’t feel like I do or that I’m the shining light for Christ that I should be. Already though, that that has me concerned should indicate that there is a love for Christ. I have to realize every day that love for Christ does not necessarily mean strong emotions.
As for struggles with the flesh, rest assured they are there! I have sins I struggle with and I have more fears than you can shake a stick at. I had a former counselor who I am still on good terms with but lives a few hours away now borrow the premiere episode of “Monk” from me and he came back and said “Oh yes! You’re right! That’s you!”
Yes. Those struggles are there and if you asked me if I was a good Christian, I’d probably say I wasn’t. If you asked me if I was devoted, I’d probably say I wasn’t. This is where it gets odd. I’d probably point to several people and say “Look how they are! I wish I was like that!” I’ve found that those same people look to me and say the exact same thing.
So this is my being honest about it. Maybe if we were all more honest, we could build each other up more and if the world saw an honest church, they’d be more likely to listen to the message.