Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Are You A Practicing Christian?

The other day, I was talking to someone who told me, "I'm a Christian, but I'm not a practicing Christian."  I said, "We are all practicing at being Christian," nobody has it locked or nailed.  We are all on the road to being a better Christian.

I love the term, "Christ Followers" for Christians.  "Christ Follower," suggests that it is a path that a person is on, literally following Jesus.  "Christ Follower" suggests you haven't got it figured out yet, totally, but you are working on it.  All of us follow close behind Christ at times, and all of us follow a long way behind Christ at times.

I once had a teacher who told me that one of the worst pieces of advice ever was the age old adage, "practice makes perfect."  My teacher told me that this is all wrong.  If you continue to practice the wrong way to do something, you just re-inforce the wrong thing that you are doing.  So, if you are a dancer, and you practice a dance move all wrong, you are just going to get better and better at doing the dance wrong.  Instead, said my teacher, people should think about, "Perfect practice makes perfect."  This implies a kind of intentionality about something and a focus on getting a thing right.

I am often astounded at how many people who profess that they are not Christians, are actually better Christians, or know the Christian faith better than those who do.  I was talking to someone a few months ago who said, "I don't believe in God at all, I'm an agnostic, but do you know what my favorite Bible verse is?"  This person proceeded to tell me about one of the most beautiful Bible texts in the entire Bible, that, to be honest, is quite obscure and not well known - even to most Christians.

I used to have a friend that went to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.  St. Olaf has one of the most famous choir and choral programs in the country.  St. Olaf literally produces the best choirs in the world.  What amazed me were the many practice rooms where students in the program would spend hour upon hour upon hour in practice, going over the same line of music again, and again and again.  One young violin player had a rash and a scab under her neck where her violin rested for hour upon hour of practice.

If you ever meet someone who does something really well (like say ice skating or singing or speaking or whatever), and that person just looks effortless in what they do, chances are better than not that they have spent hours and hours of time practicing that thing.  Practicing that thing perfectly.  I will never forget visiting the Olympic Diving Center in Miami once, and running into multi-gold medal winner Greg Louganis.  Greg was very nice by the way, totally humble.  As he approached the diving platform, and began the mind routine that he always used before making a dive, it looked like the most effortless effort you have ever seen.  However, that dive had been practiced literally thousands of times before he made that dive.  Thousands of times!!

What does it mean to be a practicing Christian?  I think it means that every single day that you wake up, you start the process again, of being a Christian.  You say, when your head lifts off the pillow, "Ok Lord, today is a new day, help me to be a better Christian today than I was yesterday.  Be with me in my journey.  This is a new journey today, different than yesterday's journey.  I'm going to need you in a new way, and I'm going to need to rely on you in a different way than I ever have before.  Help me to follow you more closely today than I followed you yesterday, In Jesus name, Amen."

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