You are not needed by God. I am not needed by God. God is all powerful and all sovereign, He is perfect in his character and has always been, long before the creation of the Earth. Yet here we are, living out our lives to share the gospel and make disciples, spending each day aiming to glorify God in all we do, pursuing knowing Jesus and make Jesus known. We do this despite not being needed. Why?
No one really enjoys sharing their weaknesses, let alone their sins. Even if we understand the great benefit that can come through sharing and confession to others (for both ourselves, our fellowship, and even for others learning from our mistakes), it can feel humiliating. We are often ashamed of our sin, discouraged by our failings, and now more than ever through social media, we can really portray ourselves how we want to be seen, having it all together in a ‘perfect’ life – so why would we want to tarnish that by sharing how short of the mark we fall?
As I explored a bit in my first reflective post Reflecting on Reflecting, I think that vulnerability and, alongside it, openness and authenticity is a vital part of Christian growth and community, so I want to share with you one (or some!) of my recent failings and what I have been reflecting on it.
Just recently as I have been reading a few different blogs and articles, and some of the social media responses to these, I have been struck by how quickly we as Christians can be to prescribe labels to ourselves and to each other, even if they are not accurate. Labels are often shaped by our denominations or theological standing, such as being ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative,’ or ‘Pentecostal’ or reformed’. Admittedly, the majority of what I have seen has been a fight against being ‘legalistic’, whilst also being very defensive of ‘grace-covering-all’- but I have no doubt that the name-calling and labeling goes both ways, and that judgement is often handed out on those who do not fit into the ‘good-Christian’ image.
Just recently I had a job interview for an intern position (first-year-out doctor) at my local hospital. This interview, alongside a couple of references from doctors I had worked with, determined whether I got to stay where I am currently living and my husband keep his job or if we would need to pack up and move away from our church and families next year. The interview went averagely. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t amazing- I really had no idea what the result would be.
In my very first year of med school, one of our first assignments was to write an academic essay on reflective essays. I don’t know who first thought this was a good idea, but I recall it as a pretty awful time. However, since then, I have become aware of the importance of reflection as a discipline of spiritual growth, or any sort of growth, and ironically it has caused me to reflect a fair bit on reflection itself. In a recent post in the series on being in a ‘reading rut’, I wrote a post focussed on meditating, which is the active reflection on God’s Word. In this post, I am looking at reflection in a broader sense; reflecting on situations, relationships, ideas and concepts; the process of thinking deeply and mentally working things out, contemplating things of importance. In this sense, reflection is not something that comes particularly naturally to me; my brain doesn’t float to thinking through important and meaningful topics, unless they seem to be having a prominent emotional impact on me and I can’t help but dwell on them. My train of thought seems to have many stations it stops at, and changes route frequently. And in addition, I am often unaware of the reflective process that has taken place when I reach conclusions about things.
This article is the final of this series on the Reading Rut, and actually the inspiration for the whole series in the first place. Of course there is a myriad of resources out there, so this is just a snapshot of things I have found helpful – so I encourage you to try them out, and I hope that they might be as good for you as they have for me. However if you find they are not for you, I also encourage you to look for something that is! Over the last few years I have discovered the importance of finding a routine and resources that works for you. My husband reads commentaries – he buys the top 3 on each book of the Bible, reads the entire thing making notes, and sits and reflects upon it. This method just isn’t for me – as much as I am so glad that he does it because it means the devotionals he runs for us are so knowledgeable and in-depth – and similarly, what I recommend here may not work for you.