What I Write About

I write about the infinite number of intersections between every day life and the good news of the God who has come to get us.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

God as the Nucleus

[This post is an excerpt of an e-mail exchange with a student after my talk from a couple of weeks ago]

Hey Alex,

The one line that stuck out to me from your talk was when you said that you came to realize that you were afraid of putting God in the center of your life because you're afraid that He wouldn't give you what you want. I'm in that exact spot. To make a silly metaphor, I'm in astronomy right now and we briefly discussed the make-up of an atom. God isn't my nucleus - he's my 1st energy level - the closest you can get to the center without being the center. The problem is making that change.

I think that relationships are my nucleus - although my relationships (or lack thereof) with guys are the main kind, it's also the relationships with my friends and family as well. I have such a hard time being ok with being single. It's been over a year since my last relationship and I'm tired of being lonely. I know God should fill that void, but it's hard to let Him occupy that space.

So what do I do now? It's hard to know what you SHOULD do and not know HOW to do it.

Thanks for listening!
Dear E,

a couple of random thoughts:

First, there's no magic formula for this. the process of allowing God to be at the center of your life is just that--a process. You've got 18-21 years of NOT living that way to overcome, which is a lot to try to "undo!"

Second, I really believe that the life of a Christian is a life of repentance. We become more like Christ, we discover what it means to live life more freely and fully as we see our sin, ask for forgiveness, and turn away from it. So what maturity means for a lot of our lives is that we shorten the 'lag time' between seeing our sin and repenting of it.

Third, I think that you've got to learn to both hate your sin and love the life that's offered in Christ for something better. We all sin because we think it's going to benefit us, right? That's the original lie in the garden, it's the same lie I believe every day. So part of our work is to not just know cognitively that somethings wrong or off, but to really think through and envision the consequences of a life lived in messed up ways.

So for me, to continue to live my life with people at the center rather than God would basically put me in the place where people had way too much power over me. It wasn't good for them or me--if people didn't make me feel good about myself (which is a ton of pressure on them) then I was a wreck.

When my identity and security and confidence is rooted in Christ, I'm freed up to be a way better friend. I can love more recklessly. It's less about me and more about actually loving others rather than trying to get something out of them, trying to suck life out of them that they can't really ever give to me.

Knowing that, picturing how great it would be to actually live like that pushes me to really dig into the scriptures to begin to understand my identity in Christ. Galatians and Romans have been critical in my understanding of what it means that I'm a child of God first and foremost. that understanding and subsequent attempts to live that out has been the story of my walk with Jesus for most of my adult life...

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