– a reflection by Rev. John Wilson, from his weekly email blast –
Here’s a thought that captured my attention. On the spur of the moment Martha Reese once asked a group of clergy, “What difference does it make in your own life that you are a Christian?” The response was silence. Loud silence. Martha was stunned. Here was a group of persons who had grown up in the church; persons who had always been persons of faith, but who couldn’t articulate what difference it made in their lives that they were persons of faith.
Martha went on to say: that’s precisely the problem! Persons who’ve grown up in the faith think of their Christianity like breathing. Being a Christian is so natural you don’t really think about it. You just do it; it’s who you are! And that’s great!
However, the downside of growing up nurtured by the church is that you think this is the way everybody else is, too. It’s hard for us to have much perspective on what a life without faith would feel like. So it’s hard to help others see what faith would add to their lives.
And because we grew up in the faith, many of us have little idea of how vivid and powerful life with Christ can be. Annie Dillard once wrote, “Does anyone have the foggiest idea of what sort of power we so blithely invoke when we pray? If we did, the ushers on Sunday morning would pass out crash helmets, issue life preservers and signal flares, and lash us to the pews.”
Martha suggests the following faith quiz: do you say yes to any of the following statements?
- I’m living a faith that doesn’t make me buckle my seatbelt when I reach for my Bible in the mornings.
- I’m living without Christ guiding me through the meetings, conversations and choices of my day.
- I don’t feel a deep sense of repentance or forgiveness.
- I’m seldom aware of leadings from the Spirit.
She says, “If you answer yes to any of these questions, please, please ask God to help you find a book, a group, a friend, someone who will help you take the next step in a richer life of faith. There’s so much more to our life with God. You haven’t yet experienced some of the glorious horizons of faith.”
Take a moment. Think about it. Right now, how would you answer the question, “What difference does it make in your life that you are a Christian?”
~ Rev. Dr. John Wilson