I’ll be honest. Christian living hasn’t fit very well into this post-university adult life thing.
In fact, in the year that’s gone by since I was taking finals, it seems that most of the things I knew as ‘being a Christian’ have been replaced, for better or for worse.
Here are 5 swaps I’ve made.
1. ‘Daily Bible reading’ for ‘daily Metro reading’.
If churches have drilled nothing else into me over the years, it’s been this: read your Bible every day. As a teenager, I’d try, with some degree of success, to be up half an hour before I needed to, to sit in the kitchen with my Bible and a cup of tea. Through university, I kept the habit; more often than not, I’d sit in my chair (in front of the fireplace in my beautiful third year room) and start the day with a passage of the Bible. It was my place to hear from God before I heard from anyone else.
Now the first thing I read each morning is whatever bit of the Metro I can see over someone else’s shoulder on the tube. It doesn’t have much to say to prepare me for my day.
All I usually manage these days is to cast an eye over the daily verse that pops up on my phone, in the brief moments when I get WiFi at underground stations.
2. ‘Pray about everything’ for ‘blog about everything’.
I give you exhibit A, this post. Ever since I can remember, I’ve woken up each day and said (aloud or in my head), ‘Morning Lord!’ It’s the start of a conversation that would get going properly over that cup of tea and Bible time, and carry on at any pause throughout the day.
Now, my day tends to start with a less than cheery ‘Crap, how can that be the time?’ Prayer comes in moments of panic, moments of helplessness, or most often, when I’m editing them for work and realise I should probably pray them too. But blogging fills the gap. It’s just as therapeutic. It helps me think. And the responses are there in black and white on a screen.
3. ‘Serve the Lord’ for ‘serve the life plan’.
It was easy when I had no life plan, or when the choices were pretty limited. In school, I was to serve the Lord in school. At university, a little more complicated, but serve the Lord there whatever it may look like. Work hard to honour God. Serve other people. Share the gospel. I didn’t have many other decisions to make.
Now there are plans, and choices, and dreams to follow. There are goals to serve instead. Read more. Learn more. Write more. Publish a book. Speak to the Church. Heal what’s broken. Change the world. It all takes up a lot of time, and serving the Lord has fallen by the wayside.
4. ‘Make disciples’ for ‘make conversation’.
I think this blog is the best evangelistic opportunity I haven’t taken. But now I’m more interested in listening and asking and chipping in than in converting the masses.
Before university, I was convinced I’d see crowds of people come to Christ; I thought CU mission weeks were a magic formula for getting students saved and baptised. But it didn’t happen. It turned out people didn’t really want to be treated as mission projects or potential converts. No matter how excited I got about a ‘great opportunity’ or a ‘fruitful conversation’, few were ever convinced.
Now, it turns out I have more potential evangelistic opportunities than ever. People who are not Christians, or used to be Christians, or might not be Christians much longer, get in touch about faith and doubt and questions. And yet, I’ve lost the urge to convert or reconvert them to any particular brand of Christianity, because it’s such a conversation killer. And there’s life in the conversation.
5. ‘Encourage one another daily’ for ‘favourite each other’s tweets occasionally.’
Every environment I’ve known up to this point has been a natural seedbed for intimate community. School, family home, a church just seconds from my front door with other members living on streets nearby. The intense, inescapable community of an Oxford college, and a Christian Union in which everyone knows your name and probably most of your testimony too. The number of people to keep track of had a natural boundary, and friends outside those close-quarters were manageable exceptions. Bumping into someone every day was normal, and there was always time for a quick catch up over tea and toast.
Life in London doesn’t foster community. It’s big. Full of possibilities and people. There’s no-one in the world I see every day, as lives criss-cross over a sprawling network of people and places and connections. But if I let you know I’ve seen your Tweet with a click of that little star, will it be enough…?
Time to take stock. Time to reassess. Time to prioritise. Time to tap into old habits. Time to find new expressions. Time to remould. Time to try a new fit. Time to reaffirm. Time to repent.