A Couch Potato Christian?

Reading to Two of my Grandson, Ayden and Cadence. September, 2009. 

Don’t Just Sit There

I read the Bible once each year.

I don’t say that to earn your admiration or claim some Christian brownie points–it’s just a thing I choose to do. For me, staying immersed in God’s Word is an important spiritual practice.

But it’s not enough. Lately I’ve been increasing convicted that spiritual practice without praxis–putting what I learn into action–is empty. 
It started when I read my friend Dan King’s new book, The Unlikely Missionary. Each chapter ends with suggestions for praxis, for putting one’s faith into action. Dan’s praxis led him, through a series of small steps, to a missionary trip to Africa. 
I’m not likely to travel to Africa. But that doesn’t excuse me from living my faith. 
Our culture is increasingly faith-averse. It’s not too hard to see why: Groups picket the funerals of fallen soldiers, and claim, unbelievably, to do so in the name of Christ. You’re more likely to see that story on the evening news than you are to see a report of  faith-based groups providing clean water in the most desperately poor corners of the world. 
But all of us, I think, sometimes fail to reflect the Spirit that dwells within us. Sometimes I judge. Sometimes I lose my temper. Sometimes my tongue is way too sharp. 
In short, I’m as broken as the next guy. 
Maybe, the most important praxis for me is one that doesn’t require me to pack my bags. 
Maybe, the most important thing I can do right now is to reflect the fruits of the Spirit that lives in me. 
Today, I’m on the lookout for opportunities to love. 

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  

Galations 5:22-23 (NASB)

14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 

James 2:14-16 (NASB)

Comments

  1. I love this… and that's exactly one of my motivations in writing The Unlikely Missionary. After years of leading and participating small group studies in the church, I've just gotten tired of walking away feeling like I had a good time, but realizing that the world isn't any different.

    And you are absolutely right… It's not about packing our bags and going to Africa. It's just about doing something… anything…

    Great post Sheila! Thanks!

  2. Dan, it's my privilege. Our faith matters more when we leave this world a little better than we found it, no?

  3. Carolyn Counterman :

    Sheila, today is one of my "hide in a closet" type of days, but I understand what you are saying. We need to put what we learn from the Word into practice, to stretch our spiritual muscles as it were.

  4. A Joyful Noise :

    Is it AT & T who says reach out and touch someone? A recent Blogger wrote, Tell someone who doesn't already know. I love my cosy church, but this coming sunday, I am visiting a church what offers help for the homeless and food for those who are in need. With me I plan to take a large bag of sweaters and warm clothes for their winter drive. Packing our bags for Africa is probably something most of us can't do, but as we look around us – – as you finalize your post – we can find someone to love. To show God's love.

  5. Carolyn,
    Thanks! "You believe the parts of the Bible you do." So they say….

  6. Hazel,
    Good for you! I'm sure your items will be welcome.

  7. I love those two little faces peeping out from under your arms! So sweet.

    Dan's book had a big influence on me too, Sheila. I"m still thinking about it. NOt sure, still, how to get off the pew. Some seasons make it harder, I think. No excuses. There are ways to make a difference here. Trying that on for now.

  8. Aw thanks, Laura. I'm pretty crazy about them myself.

    And yes, some seasons do make it harder. That's when we're really challenged to find ways to serve, hmm?

  9. Lyla Lindquist :

    Couch potato – davenport potato. Just doesn't have that same ring to it…

    I first read that you read the Bible once a year. Like, once each year, you read the Bible. But I knew that couldn't be true. Not the way the Word works in you.

    And that's the thing, isn't it? Letting the Word do its work in us, so the praxis doesn't have to be such an arm-wrestle with ourselves. Great reminder. And Dan's book fills out my reading list…

  10. And settee potato doesn't work at all 🙂

    Funny, Lyla. It hadn't occured to me that the sentence might be unclear, but I see that it is.

    Thank you for your kind words.

  11. Oh…you love well, Sheila. You do.

    But I get this. God is always calling us to just a little bit more. Not in a teasing or bullying way. No. In a way that makes us WANT more. More of Him. And I'm with you. I think sometimes we get there through the practice – the praxis.

  12. Deidra, that's it! You've struck the nail square on its head. He makes us want more of Him.