Fact: Having a five-year-old requires me to know my faith. It’s a wonderful, challenging, intimidating task to explain why I believe what I believe and live my life the way I do.
One thing I find equally refreshing and terrifying about children is their unabashed willingness to ask “why.” When it comes to God, prayer, and the Bible, life and death, heaven and hell, and mean people, bedtime conversations can leave me more than a little exhausted.
At the same time, I’m incredibly grateful for the chance to voice my beliefs. I’ve become painfully aware recently how much I’ve put my focus on those who claim to already be a part of my faith. When I think of pleasing people, I tend to worry about not saying something that might cause fellow Christians to be disappointed, judge me, or shake their heads because they already had figured out what I was just coming to realize.
I have found that I often put all of my energy into encouraging those who are already in the faith. This is not completely a bad thing! Living out the life of a disciple of Jesus is extremely difficult, and every last one of us is, on any given day, in need of encouragement. I do not regret nor do I plan to stop investing into the encouragement of fellow believers because the Bible commands me to do it, and I can personally testify to its importance.
What I am working to remedy in my own life is my outlook. Instead of shying away from neighbors, getting so wrapped up in my to-do list, or always embracing my desire to be a bit of a recluse, the time has come for me to notice the world around me.
The fact is, I have two precious children who live right inside my home and heart who have yet to come into their faith. And one of them is growing into the age of curiosity about this faith thing that Mom and Dad are always talking about and striving to live out.
So when I tell him that I believe the Bible and the Bible says to “be kind to one another,” “forgive one another,” “love one another,” “be brave,” and “pray without ceasing,” he won’t buy into it if I’m not doing it.
Is this a new concept I’m just now realizing for the first time? Nope, but now it really means something to me.
My love for his sweet, searching soul has awakened an awareness in me about the many sweet, searching souls I encounter as I live life. I’m over the idea I’ve seen attempted in multiple settings of “clean Christianity.” It doesn’t exist, and I can tell you from giving it a try that it’s exhausting and imprisoning. Messy things happen when people are involved, no matter who they are or what they believe.
What the world needs from me is more than a church smile. Never once does the Bible say I should do that. Instead, it tells me to put on the armor of God and stand. (Ephesians 6:10-18) It tells me to love the LORD my God with all my heart, soul, and mind, and to love my neighbor as myself. (Matthew 22:37-40)
This is what my corner of the world needs just as much as yours does. It’s overwhelming to try to grasp the need once we see it, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work to remedy the problem one step at a time. Some difference made is better than no difference made, and I personally can’t live with knowing the cost of not trying for those who are precious to me.