Christianity has run into a problem. We’ve gotten into the habit of putting our spiritual lives into a box labeled “Sunday Mornings Only!” that gets put back on the shelf the second we get home from church. But we’re not supposed to compartmentalize our lives into two different categories, “Jesus” and “Everything Else in Life.” Instead our relationship with Jesus should be the storage unit that holds everything else in place.
Paul reminds us of this in Colossians 1:9-10 when he says, “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way.” Notice how Paul’s prayer isn’t to live only Sundays that worthy of the Lord. That’d be too easy! Instead, we need to live all seven days with the patience, love, and joy that we do on Sundays.
So without further ado, here’s my list of the top 10 things Christians forget when we leave church.
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You walk out the church doors. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and you know it’s going to be a beautiful day. Until the cloud of misery called “church parking lot traffic” settles over you.
What is that blue Honda doing?! Why is the woman in the black Escape just sitting there?! Is that truck really letting ANOTHER car go in front of him?! You’ve got to be kidding me!
No one likes sitting in traffic. Trust me, I get it. But there’s no reason to let a busy parking lot steal the peace of the Spirit that was abundantly poured out on you in church. Take a few deep breaths, thank God that your church has a thriving congregation, and recite some Scripture. (No--telling the driver of that white Volkswagen to “get behind me satan” doesn’t count.)
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In my humble opinion, one of the best parts about Sunday morning is the prayer. Being prayed over by a pastor or praying together with friends is something that just fills my heart until it overflows. But so often, our prayer life ends once we walk out of the sanctuary doors. When reminded to “pray without ceasing” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we’re overwhelmed at the idea of spending 24 hours a day on our knees before the Lord.
But prayer is just communication with God, and we can talk about anything and everything to Him. God is the Creator of our lives and wants to be a part of it! And being a God who cares about the details, nothing is too small to share with him.
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You get to work to see a pile of project folders on your desk, each marked with “URGENT!!!!!” and 72 unread emails that somehow came in between five o’clock last night and eight o’clock this morning. Doesn’t anyone sleep around here?
You go to your first meeting, and your department isn’t hitting its sales goals and the pressure keeps rising. By the time lunch rolls around, you don’t feel like you have an ounce of joy left.
With the stress of work (or bills or failed relationships or illness or anything else), it’s so easy to forget that our joy comes from the Lord. Nothing can take a single bit of your joy away from you when you place it firmly in Him.
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I know, I know. Life is so busy! Between balancing work, family life, staying healthy, and pursuing other goals, we’re often left with no time at all. We get so caught up in all the tasks of day to day life that we forget that one of the best gifts we can give to others is our time.
Here’s a challenge: try and serve at least one hour a week. It could be at church or the library or maybe a local school. It’s a great way to way to live out your life as a Christian and to meet new people in the community. Plus, by willingly serving others, our heart becomes closer to God’s and we are in communion with him. I think that seems like a great use of an hour a week!
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Most of us have a least one person in our life who is difficult to love. Maybe it’s a person who is constantly making your day worse, causing you to curse under your breath every time you see her coming. Maybe it’s the neighbor in the upstairs apartment who you swear must have a nocturnal pet elephant or the coworker who always takes the last cup of coffee without brewing some more.
How quickly do we forget that we are supposed to love the people who are hardest to love? Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, “But I say, love your enemies!” (Matthew 5:44)
So even if the office intern takes the last donut and leaves the box on the counter every single Friday, we still need to show her love, and maybe get to the donuts quicker than she does next time.
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Jesus was pretty clear when he sent the disciples out in Mark 16:15. He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” But we sometimes (cough cough: a lot of the time) forget to do just that!
It can be a scary thing to talk to others about your faith. Many people are afraid of rejection or even just afraid of being in an uncomfortable situation.
What happens if your daily chit chat with the desk worker at the gym turns to Jesus and then it’s awkward from that point forward? No one wants that!
But the real purpose of our lives on earth is to tell as many people about Jesus as possible. Granted, it’s best to have a relationship with these people first, but it’s time to step out in bravery and talk to someone new about Jesus.
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The washing machine has caused a newly formed lake in your laundry room, the phone rings and it’s your son’s school letting you know he’s in detention for the third time this week, and your husband walks in early from work, only to let you know he’s been laid off.
Life can just be so hard, and the crummy part is God doesn’t promise it will be easy. In fact, the Bible frequently tells us we’re going to have struggles and hardships. But the one thing God does promise is that his peace will always be available to us.
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Your Bible study decides to break bread together on a Friday night so the 12 of you head out to a local restaurant. You take up the biggest table in the joint, order four appetizers and 12 entrees during the three hours you spend chatting over Romans 8. At the end of the night, you cash out and end up leaving a $10 tip on a $200 check.
Besides just being rude, you have missed an amazing chance to exemplify God’s generosity to a hardworking waiter. He overheard you talking about God and his interest was peaked, but your stinginess turned him away from visiting your church on Sunday.
The situation could have been completely different if you left a generous tip!
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Anyone else feel like life is just go, go, go, or face the consequence of being left behind? In today’s fast paced world, you may suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
What if you skip the night on the town with your friends, and it becomes the night everyone talks about for years? Or maybe you’re worried that your kids won’t get any scholarships if they aren’t in every club or on every traveling sports team. Or maybe you are working three jobs just to make ends meet.
But God was so intentional with his creation, and that includes when he created a day of rest. God knows we’re not indestructible. We need rest, and being a good God, He created a time to be in restful communion with him once a week, and you wouldn’t want to miss out on that!
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As the week goes on and on, we start to become overwhelmed and quickly put too much pressure on ourselves. We want to be perfect. Perfect spouses, perfect parents, perfect friends, and perfect Christians.
But we will fall short of the glory of God.
But here’s the good news: God’s grace is way more abundant than our mistakes. (Hard to imagine, right?) And if the God of the Universe has grace for us, we should have it for ourselves, too! Remember, Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved.”
Once we live a life covered in grace, we will find ourselves having more grace for others. And I think we all could use a little more grace in our lives!
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Originally published Monday, 12 February 2024.