Would anyone know if you were a Christian? This was the topic for today’s sermon in church. An interesting question! This was discussed because of the commandment ‘live in the world but not of the world’.
The vicar gave the example of an oyster. When a grain of sand gets into an oyster’s shell it causes an irritation, and the oyster will either make a pearl from the grain of sand or it will die because of it. I’m sure this is well-known. But it’s an interesting image – put ourselves in the place of the oyster and the world, or the trials we face, or anything you like in the place of the sand. The question is: will we take the opportunity to create something beautiful with the challenge or will we give up and let a part of us diminish?
This leads onto thinking of the question – would anyone know if you were a Christian? What identifies us as Christians other than a belief we have and trips to church, be they weekly, monthly or annually? I consider myself to be a liberal Christian, but I am also a walking paradox – while I am open-minded in my theology I am also traditional and see great beauty in the more orthodox paths. I’ve been reading a lot about Carmelite spirituality recently and am fighting the urge to go off and join the community!!
So somewhere in the midst of these extremes I have to work out what it is that I believe (a daily struggle sometimes!) and how I want to live my life as a Christian. Is it about treating others with kindness and making them feel value? Certainly! It is about loving God? Absolutely! Is it about being open to experience the Gifts of the Spirit? Of course! But only the first of these is identifiable the majority of the time, and not always successful in daily life. So what is it that makes us Christian and what are we called to do?
I don’t know the answer to the question – would anyone know if I was a Christian? I hope so! But perhaps a re-evaluation of this identity is something that is needed to keep me (and others) on my toes. I would like to think that my religious beliefs and the fact that I sing songs to celebrate the Lord are the last indicators of my faith. I would much rather that goodness and kindness are the key signals to others that I love God. I doubt that’s the case, but it’s definitely an aspiration to keep hold of!