I grew up in the church like many of you. I would go with my parents and grandparents, who were active members of the church; my grandparents were church elders, and my parents were an integral part of the worship team. I was pretty much there all the time, so my weekends were always occupied by trips to church and waiting for my parents to finish worship practice. Since my whole family attended on Sundays, I couldn’t refuse to go. That was my “normal.” I actually thought it was strange if people didn’t attend.
With so much involvement in the church, I had always identified myself as a Christian, but as a young child, I just went with it without really understanding what it entailed. Throughout most of my life, I had the impression that being a Christian was just following the rules, like attending church every Sunday and not breaking the rules. As I grew older and matured in my faith, I began to understand that it was much more than simply following the rules (who would’ve known, huh?). My pastor taught me that although following the laws laid out by God is important, it is also necessary to be more than just a "pew-sitter." How do you do that, you ask? Well here are some guidelines that I developed for myself to help me become a more active Christian.
1. Reading the Word
I know, I know, you’ve all probably been told this over and over, but it really is a necessity. Reading the Bible is crucial in understanding and knowing WHO God is. I mean, if you think about it, it's kind of difficult to worship a God you know nothing about. Furthermore, how will you combat the enemy? Like Howard often says, “this is your weapon.” Learning what the Bible says and having a firm foundation in what you believe in will help you be more confident in talking about your faith.
Instead of seeing reading as a chore, take this time to meditate over His Word through prayer and quiet time. It’ll give you a chance to talk to God, as well as learn about His works.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."
Although listening to sermons and having fellowship with others are great, you have to feed yourself spiritually in other ways too. That’s what the Bible is here for! Take it upon yourself to further your knowledge. Go straight to the source by which God himself has spoken to us and try to discern what that means to you.
Matthew 4:4 "But he answered, It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’"
Be active in church! Look for ways to serve your ministry. Not only is this a way for you to show your servant heart, but it also gives you a way to connect with your church community.
I went through a time where I would come to church to listen to the sermon, only to leave right after it was over. I wasn’t connected to anyone in the youth group, and it really affected my faith to the point where I considered walking away. Spending time serving was what really prompted me to actively pursue and continue my walk with God.
Having a community around you to support and encourage you when you are struggling is really important! Having a group of friends to hang out with is really nice too. :-)
Romans 15:5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.
People can preach about what you should do as a Christian, but if you don’t try to actually do any of it then it’s pointless. Paul calls us as Christians to "put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:24). What this means is that we need to cast off our old ways of sin and start walking in the light in accordance to what the Bible says (remember point 1?).
You must choose to have discipline to read and the selflessness to serve. By making your Christian walk a priority, it becomes more important than other, more trivial things. Believe me, you'll begin to see a change when you delight in His presence through meditation on the Word rather than watching a silly cat video on YouTube.
Have character! In other words, carry out what you say you are going to do. Try not to put things off with excuses like, “I'll just read tomorrow,” or “I'll help out for the next event." Not only will this improve your discipline, but it will also help you to be a better person that others will certainly rely on.
Hebrews 12:11 "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."
Joining One Light’s staff has been one of the biggest blessings in terms of helping me grow spiritually. It gave me a community I felt comfortable with, and it gave me more opportunities to be vulnerable in sharing my past experiences. Knowing that I’m not the only one going through these struggles has encouraged me to step out and deepen my relationships with them and with God. I am now partaking in Bible studies and even leading a small group, which I thought I would never do! These steps are just a few things that I found to be helpful in my walk with Christ. Being a Christian is by no means easy, and I certainly have my struggles when it comes down to discipline. I also don’t mean to say that if you don’t do any of these things, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t a Christian. I want to encourage everyone to trust in Him and to let Him guide you even when you don’t feel like pursuing Him. After all, God wants your love and devotion. He is the one that redeems us when we fail. As long as you don’t focus on your failures and focus on Him, loving God eventually become easier to do.