Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Effects of Prayer and Fashion

Sent By Ravens
the effects of fashion and prayer
  Now, the statement my title makes is almost an insight to the "Christian" world I live in here in America.  Coined by a great band,  Sent By Ravens, I have borrowed the title from their "Effects of Fashion and Prayer" only reversed - to make my point.  I have adopted this title to express the way I feel about what I've seen around me lately, as well as the descriptor for the way my heart feels now.

  As a beginner, effects are the results of a cause; something that happens because of a prior event.  Such events can be, but are not exclusive to, relationships, friendships, socializing, concerts, driving, etc.  So to begin with prayer...

Prayer: our personal phone call to God.

Relying on God is something that is becoming more obsolete as time goes on.  We, as a people of earth, find that it's easier to rely on ourselves and then put God's name in front of our success so that it appears that we have such a relationship with the Lord.  When we actually hand every aspect of our lives over to God, even if it's one-by-one, we truly grow to understand the work of God's hand over our life.  Lately, I have witnessed this to my own mom as encouragement for what is going on in her own life.  Taking her life and choices to the Lord in prayer, she has shared with me how she has seen the God truly works in her life when she trusts Him.  Knowing that God's hand is constantly in her life is such a satisfying relief to me!

As far as prayer goes for me, I have experienced the verse in Romans 8:26 which says: "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans."  I have a hard time collecting my thoughts sometimes when I'm talking to people and I try not to let it show while I talk.  Unfortunately, I have a hard time thinking of what words to bring to God in prayer and I know in my head what I want to ask for but my spirit cannot put it to words.  When these things happen, I usually end up saying something like, "God, you know what's on my heart right now; please take care of it - I don't even know what I want to ask you..."  Not such a great idea, Jessica... Charles and John Wesley have both said before: "God does nothing without prayer."  Jesus encouraged us to pray for everything, as well as Paul encouraged us to constantly pray, for though God knows the troubles and desires of our hearts, He will not work unless we ask Him to.  Think about a human relationship; your friend is so exhausted with all of her responsibilities in school, and work, possibly in her family, and she does not have any down time for herself.  You want to help her in some way, but you know that she would rather stay independent and work on her own.  All the while, your friend is telling you all these woes and stresses thinking, "I wish she'd offer to help..."  Since she never asked, you don't help her although you know she needs it.  It's not until she asks you to help her in some way that you willingly accept the burden she's asking to share, bringing her some peace.  Make sense?

Well, recently, I have decided to take Romans 8:26 seriously, and I have asked the Holy Spirit to speak to the Lord through me on my behalf... Wasn't sure how that was going to work... As I sat there praying, though, I felt these words come into my mouth, into my mind, that were the exact things I was trying to think of saying!  As if with a different voice, I heard the words I needed to say come so perfectly, only in a way that I would have never worded, words that were not my own but said exactly what I could not seem to think of.  And I know for a fact that the Holy Spirit was working in my favor before the Lord.  I can see Him truly working with my request based on how the words I have spoken effect the situation!  What an amazing God!  I wish every human being could experience such love and peace!  I wish Christian would swallow their pride and actually understand who God really is and long to live for Him!  But this brings me to the effect of fashion...


Fashion is what we see when we want to impress people.  Often times, fashion leaks into our so-called "Spiritual lives" and that's when the Message gets confused.  We start thinking that showing up at church and praying before meals means that we are going along with the whole 'religion' thing.  Well.  You're right.  Going to church is a part of religion.  Praying before meals is a part of religion.  Going to Sunday school is a part of religion.  Reading and owning a Bible is religion.  Sermons on Sunday morning is part of religion.  This is truly religion, you are correct, and if you take part in these things 'religiously' then you are definitely a religious person!  Yay for you!  That doesn't mean you know Christ and His work in your life.  That doesn't mean you have allowed God to speak to you, or rather, that you have listened to Him.  That doesn't mean you know what it;s like to be in His presence.  That doesn't make you holier than everyone else who does not do those religious things.  That does not necessarily make you a Christian, or even a better person.  While for a few people, these things all fall hand-in-hand with each other, there are many many more whose lives speak the latter reality.  Only they realize it and therefore don't believe it to be true.

Now, I am not calling out any individuals, for overall the relationship one has with God is between them and God.  However, it is evident when people follow all of those religious things and then aren't very sure how Christ fits in to all of that.

"It's better to be hated for what you are,
then loved for what you're not."
-Kurt Cobain
Christianity, the religion, has become SO fashionable in our society because it makes people feel happy, look good, and earn a reputation for participating in such selfless activities.  The misleading point comes when you look at how not selfless these people are being with their intentions.  And this is where the rest of the Seeking world is led astray - getting to God and finding purpose is by follow rules and regulations of a Spiritual culture, and Christ might be thrown in there somewhere, probably attached to how happy life is because of Him and yet few really understand why.  When asked what God's purpose for us in life is, most would say something like, "He wants me to be happy and so He makes sure I'm happy."  The answer is, "God wants me to humble myself because of the amazing sacrifice HE made for ME!  Therefore, in everything I do - even if it leads to my death - I want the whole world to hear about the freedom I have in Christ!"  But that's above many people's heads.  So often, I hear about how happy God has made a person their whole lives and how He's never let harm come to them, He's always made life so enjoyable and wonderful.  There may have been a time or two when these people were sad, but God didn't want them to be sad, so somehow He fixed it.  I think that is wonderful to know that God is the Almighty Comforter of the mourning and weeping, and I say, "PRAISE GOD!" for that act of Love in your life!  I truly believe that is wonderful!  But have you ever really lived if all your life has ever been is happy and pleasing to you?

Selfish and happy?
Or selfless and giving the glory to God?
It's not a selfish 'religion' - if you think about it, every other religion in our known society focuses on "me," revolves around how "I" can be better, how "I" can be happy and content.  Jesus came way out of His comfort zone to talk to stubborn thieves and prostitutes who didn't seem to understand what He was talking about while He was here, got frustrated and angry at all the greedy selfishness the world displayed, was framed for doing something He never did, had His skin ripped apart and His clothes gambled off in humor as He lay there bleeding, and then got His hands and feet nailed to a plank of wood as people beneath Him mocked Him and spat on his bloody wounds.  THIS is the reason we are Christians.  Not so that we can be happy.  Jesus' purpose here was to show us how to really love another person without expecting anything in return.  He taught us countless times how to pray and how to truly please God without offerings.  He taught us what life is supposed to be about - God, others.  Not anything to do with us.  Jesus Christ taught us to forget about anything to do with ourselves and what makes us happy so that we can live for HIM and serve OTHERS.  NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH US.  That is holiness.  That is God's purpose for our lives.  Our 'religion' is about something other than ourselves - unlike every other faith in this world.  Christ was selfless in hopes that we too would be selfless.  Not selfish.  Why don't we get that, people!?

His example: serving others.
Christ-ian translates to "Christ-like" or "little Christ" and was originally meant as mockery of those who followed the teachings of Christ.  As we have adopted the name as truth in our lives, we have lost the real reason that we were ever called Christians.  We have lost sight of God, His Will, His sacrifice, others around us, everything to do with Christ because we are more concerned with which dress will be the cutest on Easter Sunday and what gifts we will be getting on Christmas morning.  We are so caught up in all the social activity at church that we forget about Church and our purpose for going to church in the first place - communion and fellowship worshipping God as one Body of believers.  Being a Christian is about being broken people that God loves, shows mercy to, accepts just as we are, molds your life from the inside out and then uses us to show others the love and acceptance we can get from Him.

Christianity is now merely fashion in our culture.  It's something that dresses us up as good and happy people and nothing more.  We can't bare the thought of being looked down upon by the world to give God glory.  And most don't even understand what that means.  We have nothing to do with selfishness, nothing to do with legalism, nothing to do with mere socialite activities for good reputation.  My hope and prayer is that the effects of God in this world through who really know Him will be enough to reach everyone wrapped up in the effects of fashion.  Nothing is more disheartening to me than someone who has never truly met God right where they're at.  Take seriously the calling we give ourselves when we claim the name of Christ-like.  Christian is not who we are intended to be, Christ followers are who we are based on the love, mercy, and sacrifice Christ taught us through His life, words, and examples.  Don't be ashamed of that!  And don't let our lovely fashionable Christianity control you.

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