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No Lists Involved in Knowing Christ

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Continuing education fits people differently. Sometimes we choose electives that we pursue out of personal interest or for the sheer joy of learning. Other times other people choose the topics for our professional enrichment. Lucky for me, I enjoy learning enough that even the courses required to maintain professional certification generally do not seem dreadful. Sometimes they even surprise me with especially useful content.

I recently attended a continuing education seminar that I expected to be largely about policies, procedures and compliance. It surprised me when, early in the session, the presenter explained that he would not spend much time on these nuts-and-bolts issues. There’s always more we can do in these areas, he elaborated. The more attention we give to the details of the things we know we have to do, the more details we find that keep us head-down in those particular issues. When we do that, we fail to pull back and see the larger picture that provides the context for those details, important though they may be.

With that ground rule laid, the conversation pivoted away from obligation and toward opportunity. We explored ideas and strategies that provide a better foundation and enhanced outcomes. We shifted our focus to results without losing sight of the steps required to arrive at a desired destination. As I reflected more on this approach later, I realized how much it aligns – or should align – with our pursuit of a relationship with God our Father and Jesus our Savior.

For people who live by lists of tasks and reminders, following Jesus can become as formulaic as policies, procedures and compliance. As I child, I used offering envelopes with a list of check boxes that my Sunday School teachers encouraged me to complete each week. Sunday School attendance? Check. Bible brought? Check. Lesson studied? Check. Giving? Check. Worship attendance? Check. Daily Bible reading and prayer? Check. When I could check off each box, I knew I was doing the church thing right!

Knowing God, however, is about more than showing up at church. And following Jesus is about more than carrying my Bible, or even reading it. My relationship with God does not depend on how many boxes I can check on my offering envelope. It does not result from following a policy or complying with established procedures. Galatians 2:16 (NIV) explains that we “have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”

God’s provision for our salvation through Jesus means we can throw away our checklists. We can stop keeping score of rights and wrongs. Instead of being confined by rituals or perceived obligations, we can lift our heads from the rigidity of routine and find in His promises the freedom and opportunity to grow in a real relationship with Him. When we do, we likely will find those behaviors again, but this time as natural and joyful results of our relationship with a loving God. - Kathy Raines, Minister of Administration

Posted by Kathy Raines