I am struck by the verse where Jesus pointed out that we are to love the LORD with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). I am to love God with everything I’ve got: my emotions, my thought life, my behaviour, my body, everything. Spiritual formation touches every part of me including those parts of my life that are on display to others. This is a normal response to such an amazing God that will appear abnormal to those who do not perceive him. God transforms me from someone who is controlled by his appetites and by guilt. He rewards me. He disciplines me. He shapes my behaviour and my thinking to be more like his own. He heals my body and my emotions. He encourages me when I am discouraged. He gives me the confidence to take risks again when I fail. He restores my sanity. He enables me to overcome my anxiety. I sometimes wonder what people who do not have this experience of God make of all this?
I cannot say that I have endured the trials and tribulations of suffering or persecution that some have. But sometimes in the pressures of everyday life as a teacher and a parent I have felt crushed. Yet somehow I have managed to cope. It is these uncertain situations that God often uses to develop me spiritually. And he does this in my workplace and neighbourhood in front of other people. One thing that I am learning is the way of shalom – the way of peace – the way of non-aggression. I still shout at people sometimes but God is showing me how to live at peace with all people slowly I think I am learning how to overcome my own natural tendencies to assert myself aggressively. God has had to teach me to unlearn some lessons I have learnt in life, to be different from the crowd and not to give in to the pressures around me. I hope that I am getting there. I hope that I am beginning to see how to be the man that he has intended me to be with my friends.
Yes, of course talking to our friends about God is vital too. I’ll discuss that next week.