Have I understood Christianity correctly?

Following up on “I’m a mess. What do I do?” (January 31/12) I began to wonder after all my years of being a Christian if I’d understood Christianity correctly, because the stress of it was killing me.

But why? I’d only been doing “what all Christians are supposed to do.” I’d done my best to be a good example of Christian living, done all my church rituals, helped the needy, spread the gospel, and got a pretty good grasp of Scripture and Christian teaching. And while I was young and had lots of energy, I’d kept up with it all.

But the shine on that kind of Christianity began to wear off as I got older. I couldn’t keep up the pace like I used to, and when I pushed myself too hard for too long I got ill. But I couldn’t switch off what I’d been taught, so I pressed on, only to get knocked down again, and again, and each time quicker and worse. Physically, I felt hammered. Mentally, I thought I was going nuts.

But surely this shouldn’t be happening to a Christian, right? I was worn out, wings sheared off, energy spent and horribly confused. I was done. I began to wonder, therefore, if doing all my Christian responsibilities as perfectly as possible and being an upstanding, good person in every way wasn’t actually what Christianity was about.

But what on earth was it instead?

A little light began to shine in 2 Corinthians 4:7, which told me I’m a “jar of clay.” I’m not a powerful example of Christian living, I’m a pot. And the reason Christians are pots is “to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” I’m not a Christian to show off what I can do, I’m a Christian to show off what God can do, “For we (Christians) are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body,” verse 11.

And there I had my clue as to why I was so stressed out. I was trying to be a tower of strength while God was taking the strength out of me. Why? Because all God wants me to be is a pot, a container for the life of Christ that he then shines out from me. That’s why “he made his light shine in my heart” (verse 6), “so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in (my) mortal body,” verse 10. I’m a Christian so that God, by HIS power, can reveal his Son through me. HE does it, not me, because I’m just a pot.

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