Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Allowing God the centre

In recent months, something has begun to change in how I see God's role in my life.  Doing what God wants has always been very important to me and has already influenced a number of aspects of how I live day to day.  However, I've recently come to think that what God really wants is to be the centre of my life.  Absolutely everything I do ought to be shaped by and flow from that centre.
What does that mean?

I'm not all that sure yet.  For some people it means living a quite unusual life, such as the life of a hermit or of a wandering preacher.  But without a specific call to do so, it seems to me wrong to let go of the income, house etc. that you rely on to stay alive, or even to let go of the things that make you happy.  On the pragmatic side, I've recently had it brought home to me that I find it extremely hard to put aside my grumpiness and serve other people when I haven't done anything fun recently.  On the theological side, the Western Church has long believed that the chief end of man (and woman!) is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

It does, however, mean that it shouldn't be possible for 'the things God wants me to do' to get squeezed out of my life, as I shouldn't be doing anything at all that is not part of his call on me.

I find this an exciting way of understanding how I should live, and I look forward to seeing what comes of it.  It's already given me a new angle on Jesus' instruction to love one's neighbour as one's self.  Sometimes I've heard people say that that command includes an implicit one to love one's self, but that's never really felt right to me.  It doesn't really seem to fit with what Jesus was saying, plus I'm suspicious of such a comfortable reading of one of Jesus' parables!  Just recently, though, I've come to think that I'm probably not capable of loving my neighbour like that if I don't look after my own needs as well.  I think that that gives me a yardstick that I expect I'll find helpful, even though it's a very subjective one.

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