Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Ticking boxes

My husband is a list maker of old.  I am always finding bits of old cereal box with lists written on the back; lists of outstanding DIY; shopping lists; to do lists for his job.  He is a list maniac and always has been since I've known him.  For me though, lists are a new-ish entity.  I don't ever remember lists being made at home, and so I grew up without that most necessary of inventions.  However, thanks to the wonders of technology I have now adopted the list as my own; there are so many fabulous organisational sites out there with pretty printables that are just begging to be adorned with a list, how could I not become a list maker?

I think you'll agree that the best thing about lists is ticking them off.  It's a tangible sign of achievement and progression.  It makes you feel great to see how far you've come.  And when the last item on your list is checked,... what a feeling?!  Lists are the stuff of addiction, I'm sure, because nothing gives as great a rush as the knowledge that you have done what you set out to do.  Staring at a completed list is like eating Green & Blacks 70% cocoa dark chocolate; it just makes me want more.  More achievement, more self worth, more self justification for my existence.  And that's just the chores list.

So if the chores list gets me this excited, what happens when I turn faith into a checklist?  It's absolutely awesome; the progress I can make is astounding.

(And just in case you think I am speaking only of conservatives, the charismatic church could equally have a list which includes speaking in tongues and watching the 'right' programmes on God TV.  Liberals could create their list with the right theology books and missional experiences.  None of these things are bad in     themselves; it is when we start to put faith in these things for our righteousness and salvation that there becomes a problem.)

Actually, in reality, this isn't progress at all.  It's merely ticking boxes.  And it leads to a false sense of our own righteousness without any reference to the saving grace of Christ.  We cannot become righteous through our own works.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--

Ephesians 2:8 NIV

I have fallen into this trap very recently.  I have succumbed to checklist Christianity.  I wanted so much to make progress from the broken and inadequate vessel that I believed myself to be, so I decided to pull myself up by my bootstraps and become the kind of Christian I aspired to be.  I bought long denim skirts because that was what those ladies who I longed to be like, longed to fit in with, wore.  I read the 'right' kind of books, I changed my theology to become more Biblically correct.  I knew I was saved by God but I longed to be more righteous and fruitful, and instead of resting in the vine for that fruit I tried to cultivate it for myself. I am reminded of this scripture:

My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the Fountain of living waters, and they have hewn for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns which cannot hold water. Jeremiah 2:13

If we forsake God in favour of an easy to achieve checklist we are wronging both Him and ourselves.  We rob ourselves of the intimate personal relationship that we might have with the Father if we were attached to the vine, and we rob God by refusing to put our faith in the saving work of His Son on the cross.  We are told in Philippians 2:12 to work out our salvation with fear and trembling and I believe fully in this exhortation.  We should not be sloppy about our faith; it should be the most important part of our lives and radiate from everything that we do.  We should, however, remember that we are all individuals and the working out may look different for each of us.  The King James Bible refers to working out our 'own' salvation.  Christianity is truly about a personal relationship with a personal saviour.  So no more check boxes,... not for me anyway.  Be who you are; uniquely and wonderfully you.  No-one else can have the relationship with God that you have because no-one else is like you: don't rob Him of the joy of your friendship by trying to emulate somebody else's version of what a Christian is like.  Be a true friend by revealing your true self to Him and allowing his love to change and mould you into your best self.

Who am I that You are mindful of me 

That You hear me when I call 
Is it true that You are thinking of me 
How You love me it's amazing 


I am a friend of God 
I am a friend of God 
I am a friend of God 
He calls me friend 

God Almighty, Lord of Glory 

You have called me friend 

(Repeat Chorus) 

He calls me friend 

He calls me friend...

Israel Houghton


Caroline said...

I think you are absolutely right. If we reduce our Christian walk to following others, then it's never going to be right. However, if you are doing some of those things BECAUSE God has shown you, in His Word, that it is the way He wants you to be, then it would be wrong not to strive after it. The part that is wrong, is doing it to follow others or please others. I'm so glad that you are following God and not men. Hugs.

Jo Child said...

Absolutely. This isn't meant to be critical of anyone else; it's about expelling my own demons. God leads us as individuals and I very much respect anyone who acts upon their convictions.

Jackie said...

When I hear God tell me what to do, that's good. When I start telling others they should do it, that's bad. You are you, precious Jo, and you don't need to tick any boxes. x

uầy ôi said...

Nice blog !!!
thanks for sharing
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