As I drive home from work, I find myself in standstill traffic and glance to my left- I like to people watch! Anyone else do that?…
So amongst my people watching, I notice a man pushing a pram while holding hands with a young boy- lets say it was a Dad and his two children. Stood talking to them was a lady- lets call her the friend.
They appeared to be in deep conversation until all of a sudden she places her arm out towards the young boy’s head and ruffles his hair. He just stands there and takes it while screwing up his face – probably thinking, ‘cheers lady, you’ve messed up my hair now!’ Why is it children always get their cheeks pinched, hair ruffled and gazed at intently in the face as if they’re a pet or something that’s just landed from planet zog!
Anyway, it made me think about how people automatically touch my pregnant belly at the moment. Instead of looking me in the eye, they greet me with their eyes fixated on my bump and then out come the hands! Paving the way forward for them to feel the bump-do you mind if I touch? I don’t mind this at all by the way, don’t get me wrong, I think its lovely. But it prompted me to think about how we live our life, living for Jesus.
Is our faith, our love for Jesus, a change within us so tangible that people can’t help but reach out and want to touch what you’ve got? Do they notice there’s something so different about you just like they do with my huge bump?
Similar to how my pregnancy is so obvious- not just physically but by the sheer joyful expression and delight on my face (apart from when I’ve had very little or no sleep) do they see that in your life? – and I include myself in that question.
Do you and does your life look pregnant with Jesus? The holy spirit? Do people want what you’ve got because it clearly brings you so much joy and a positive change both inwardly and outwardly? Can they see you growing each time they see you, just like they can with my pregnancy? Do they see you embrace the change, or do you hide it from a select few? Perhaps family members who are not yet Christians, your closest friends?
Matthew 5: 13-16 (MSG)
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven
Perhaps you’re embarrassed about openly living your life for Him because now you’re in the spotlight, you’re an open book, people will see that your life hasn’t been a bed of roses and may ridicule or criticise you?
I’m by no means perfect, non of us are. I’ve made many mistakes and still do, but it’s when I know I’ve slipped up that I find it really easy to hide away and I’m sorry to say, play down my faith in front of those who may question me- even to some of my family and friends. Instead of focusing on who my father God says I am, looking to Him for forgiveness and seeking the strength to be bold enough and just admit that I’ve made mistakes- I retreat into fear and try to hide so as to avoid the confrontation with anyone who questions me, my faith and my actions.
Matthew 10:32-33 (MSG)
32-33 “Stand up for me against world opinion and I’ll stand up for you before my Father in heaven. If you turn tail and run, do you think I’ll cover for you?
I recently listened to Bob Goff preach at a conference, and I found his attitude; his demeanour, personality, sheer joy at sharing the gospel and his love for Jesus so infectious that I just wanted to reach out and bottle what he’d got! ‘I want what you’ve got!’ I thought. He was overflowing with the love of Jesus and he didn’t overcomplicate it which I just love!- Can I just say, how often do we overcomplicate and over analyse Jesus’ love and the freedom we have of a relationship with Him?… I digress, his love for Jesus was so contagious that I just wanted to go out and love on people, right there and then, just as he does and was encouraging us to do. I actually questioned whether I was in the room with Jesus himself!
I remember a time at work when I was becoming incredibly stressed and felt like I was crumbling under immense amounts of pressure- I was pregnant at the time as well! I broke down in the office and sobbed! It was obvious to the staff that I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed. I expressed my concerns and remember saying ‘I’ll never get this done in time, what if I don’t meet this deadline…’ One of my colleagues who sat opposite me was so loving and gentle, but I could see a look of confusion in her eyes. Then came the words that have challenged me ever since. ‘Cheryl, aren’t you a woman of faith? Don’t you trust and believe that everything will work out?’
Now, as far as I’m aware, this woman wasn’t a Christian- but she knew that I was, and so couldn’t understand why I was fretting and agonising over this work issue. My reaction to my circumstance showed very little faith or trust. I realised just how exposed I was in that office and how I hadn’t practised or lived out what I claim to believe at all. My faith wasn’t at that moment something anyone wanted to reach out and touch.
I believe that when we choose to follow Jesus, when we allow the holy spirit to dwell within us, there is a change that happens. It may be gradual for some or immediate for others, but a change all the same. I believe it’s a change that sets us apart from the ways of the world today. A change so obvious and infectious that people can’t help but ask about what it is you know- who is it that you know? Why are you this way? Why do you help those people when they don’t deserve it? Why do you forgive those who’ve really hurt you when they haven’t even apologised and are so undeserving of your forgiveness? Why do you love on the homeless? Why are you so full of joy- even when things are really tough? Where are you finding your strength from in the midst of your struggle? Why do you always seem so peaceful and trust that everything will work out when there seems no way?
Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect.
So I am challenging myself, even more so now as I become a Mum, to let my faith and love for Jesus shine! To be so proud and let others see my faith in action just like how I am so proud to show off my pregnant belly! I am challenging myself to actually live out His teachings- not just say I am a woman of faith and live exactly the opposite. To live faith in action- not just saying all the right Christian words and following with empty actions. I want our daughter to see me look to our heavenly father for strength when times are tough rather than stewing and stressing and trying to deal with it on my own. I want her to see a joy in my heart because I am loved and I love Him. I want her to see my faith shine and be so evident in my life- just as I am while pregnant with our beautiful girl.
What about you?…
Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?