I dislike starting off an entry with a negative, but I feel that it’s necessary to say this: Don’t compromise your time alone with God.
Some of you are thinking, “Wow, I should probably set aside time to be alone with God.” Yeah, me too. Others might be thinking, “Wow, I should probably set aside time to figure out if I believe in God.” or, “What do I believe about God?” While some of you might be thinking, “Wow. I’ll never read another word this idiot writes.” I’m all right with all of those responses and any of the ones in between that I haven’t mentioned.
I find that in particular moments, I become disciplined in my relationship with God. Moments when I no longer squeeze in a last minute prayer right before bed in an effort to appease my religious conscience, but instead actually set aside a specific portion of my day that is dedicated to spending time reading God’s Word and praying. You know, Christian stuff at its most basic and fundamental level. Times when I am no longer fitting God into my schedule, but when He actually becomes a part of my schedule, or better yet, I allow Him to dictate/change my schedule.
Now looking back on my life, it used to be an accomplishment of sorts that I spent a few moments reading my Bible and praying on my own. (However, God has a unique way of showing us a different perspective on an issue).
I am currently being a “good” Christian on the most fundamental and basic level. I say that because reading your Bible and praying as a Christian and being impressed by those actions, would be like congratulating someone for eating their breakfast in the morning. Eating food is human. It’s just what we do. Praying and reading God’s Word is Christian. It’s what we do. Basic. Fundamental.
Now, sharing your faith, giving to the poor, turning the cheek, more proactive actions that require your faith are still fundamental and basic, but often viewed as more radical or clergy-oriented elements of being a Christian. They are not; they are Christian. Then again maybe today those actions aren’t Christian. Maybe in post-modern, western Christianity, they are something completely different. Maybe today in this context, being a Christian is avoiding sex outside of marriage and not being gay. Maybe today’s Western Christian believer is not about “doing,” but rather it is about “avoiding.” I’ll let you decide. If that is the case, however, then I no longer want to be considered a “Christian.” I am more concerned with becoming a follower of Jesus.
Returning to my original reason for writing this: “Don’t compromise your time alone with God.” I have noticed that when I am spending time with God, it will usually start off great. A lot of what I am reading just seems to be perfect for my day and whatever situations I have been facing. My prayers seem focused and in-tune with the needs of the people around me, and what they’re going through: real encouraging stuff. Then, I begin to shorten my time and realize how many things I can accomplish during this time since I’m getting up earlier. Then the worship music begins to take more and more of the time, and soon I begin to incorporate teachings, and preaching, and conferences, and seminars, and books about God, and suddenly my time with God has become my time with God’s friends. God’s friends and I begin to sit around all morning contemplating God and talking about God in great and profound ways. We study what God is like, what God isn’t like, what God likes, what He doesn’t like, and the list continues.
Then it hit me.
Would I like it if the person that I care most deeply about on the planet Earth—the person that I was willing endure unimaginable pain and suffering for, and even to die for, in the hope that he or she would one day, turn a thought towards me, love and accept me—never spent any time with me? What if, even those of them who called me by name, said that they would visit with me (and at times they did) but slowly our time together, when it was supposed to be just us, suddenly became filled with distractions and people. I became someone you talked about, but no longer called. Someone you said you loved, but no longer spent any time getting to know better. How would that work? What level of friendship and trust would that invoke?
Simplicity with God leads to profound moments, so try never to forget the basics: prayer, reading God’s word, fasting, and listening (in no particular order). All of which can be done with only a Bible, but be aware of how difficult this can be to accomplish. Even as I write this, I am completely distracted by the world around me, (and my latte was a decaf). But, when I set aside time with God, I am in pursuit of a time with Him that is without compromise. Now, if I want to watch a sermon or read literature that is theological, I do it at a time that is separate from my time reserved for the One whose affection for me is without compromise.