Thursday, September 29, 2011

Proud Prayer

You’re sitting in a cramped restaurant with your friend. You see a group of people coming to sit at the table ten inches from your elbow. Do you keep the volume of your voice at the same level? Do you drop to a whisper? Do you stop talking all together and tell your friend you can pick up the conversation later?

I know everyone is different, but I’m usually one of those to drop my voice and turn my body so I can make sure that the conversation is kept between me and my buddy. It doesn’t matter what the conversation is about or how intimate the subject matter. It could be about a party, work, school, or family. The point is that these other people are not my intended audience, so I don’t know how they’ll react. But it wouldn’t be a big deal if they heard. The conversation’s usually about nothing really important, these eavesdroppers don’t usually do anything to show a reaction. I should just keep talking, shouldn’t I?

What if this friend was God?

You’re at a restaurant praying before you eat. A group of people sit at the table next to you and scan the room, taking in their surroundings, and they spot you. Your voice cuts off, and you either stop or finish praying in your head. Why? Is it bad to give thanks to the one who allowed you to have whatever meal your about to start to gobble down?

I know I’m not the only one to do this either. I’ve talked to countless people about this and witnessed it more than just a time or two. People don’t like to pray in public. When we find a private place, we have no problem talking to God. We might fold our hands, speak out loud, or even kneel down to pray. But, for some, it can be hard to even speak out loud to God in front of their families.

Some of this comes from the fact that there are multiple religions out there, and perhaps we’re just a little too cautious because we don’t want to offend anyone. “I don’t want my child exposed to her shenanigans.” This is where your sets of values come in to play. If you’re shut yourself up and just stop praying because somebody wants you to because they feel uncomfortable or they have their own opinions about your faith, you’re casting your faith aside to be accepted by society—even though they might not fully accept you anyway because they’ve already witnessed the deep dark truth that you’re actually a Baptist, or a Mormon, or a Catholic, or whatever religion you identify yourself with.

But you are a Baptist, or a Mormon, or a Catholic, or whatever, so act like it. Pray like it. You’ve chosen to seek your salvation, so why stop because someone else might be uncomfortable and might speak up and say something. Praying allows you to talk to God. How do you build a relationship with your friends? You talk to them. Praying to God is building a relationship with Him. So keep praying, and don’t be afraid to do it. Be proud that you can talk to God and have that personal relationship with Him. That other person might get up and talk to you, though it is unlikely, but in the end, you’ve got the points with God, and He tends to be a pretty good caretaker.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Sunday Christians" (An Introduction)

Growing up, I used to hear the term "Sunday Christian" a lot. This is a type of person who goes to church on Sunday--though it can be on other days--participates in the service, and acts like a good Christian, according to his or her faith, for that day. When the next day comes, however, that person has a very different set of values than those displayed as his or her church.

The average person has many different personas. You probably act differently with your parents than you do with your friends. When you go to work, you behave differently than you would in the comfort of your own home. Your tongue might be a little looser, and you might speak your mind with a little less caution and a little less thought. It can be much the same with church. When in church, you're focused on God. You raise your voice and hands in praise, listen to the readings from the Bible, and try to learn to be a better Christian.

This is very easy to do when everyone around you is doing it too. Every person in that building with you is praising God and trying to better themselves as well. But what happens when we leave those buildings?

When we step outside, the world has a different set of values; it's a different kind of ball game. In church, we're told that we need to feed the hungry, visit the imprisoned, give to the poor, etc. Outside of church, we're told to work hard, climb that ladder of success, make as much money as we can, and be quick about it. So, instead of giving to the poor, we might hesitate, keeping our "belongings" close because society tells us that we're only as good as what we have. If we give away something, we might be giving away everything and join the homeless under the overpasses. Our reward of eternal glory in heaven is replaced with the vision of a mansion filled with many different comforts and servants waiting to take our commands.

Our focus shifts from how to be a better Christian to how to get that next promotion. With everyone around you focused on that same goal, it's easy to go along with it. This blog is meant to explore some of the difficulties of being a Christian in today's America, where there seems to be little room (and even less time) for God.