A Faith That Changes Everything
Rebecca writes about the threat that our contemporary culture's individualistic mindset poses on our faith, and argues that our relationship with Jesus can used to overcome these challenges.
I know I am not the first person to address the issue of society’s constant bombardment of the idea that we need to do everything for ourselves.
If we want something, we are told, it is we who go get it. We are encouraged not to rely too much on anyone else. We are pressured to think that there is a ladder, a hierarchy, that we should constantly be climbing.
Individualism is a key feature of the Western culture and it’s message is shared constantly.
Stop and think for a moment. Isn’t that the opposite message to the bible? In the bible we are taught to love God and love others. We are taught to do life and faith together with God and in community, for the benefit and growth of all.
After all, a relationship takes the work and effort of two parties. I’ve written before about how it takes a village to raise a child, and that we still need that village for the rest of our lives. The church can be that village and it remains true.
The problem with the message of individualism is that a lifestyle led and maintained all on your own is not sustainable. Trying to do everything for yourself can lead to burnout. Your self-esteem might take a hit because you aren’t seeking or aren’t open to encouragement and love from others. The process of working on something without help could be inefficient. Overall, a life led individually seems like a life with a lot of pressure.
There is that old saying: ‘a problem shared is a problem halved.’ And it makes sense. Have you ever experienced the way your chest becomes less tight and your shoulders a bit less heavy as soon as you tell someone what you’re worrying about? When we share our struggles and burdens with other people, they become a bit less burdensome.
But how about the fact that we can give over our fears, worries and anxieties to God, to the Creator of the universe. How epic is that? We really can just give up the fears and worries, acknowledging that God is sovereign, that there is a bigger picture, that God can use the difficult times to create change and grow His people in ways they couldn’t on their own.
Change and growth
I think change and growth may be two of the more important implications of our ongoing relationships with Jesus. When you think about what Jesus has to offer and that we can leave our sinful lives behind for a life in eternity - how can you not be changed by that?
But how about the fact that we can give over our fears, worries and anxieties to God, to the Creator of the universe. How epic is that?
How can you not have a renewed confidence and love of life every single day, purely because God loves you?
Take the story of Bartimaeus for example. As told in Mark chapter 10, Bartimaeus was a blind beggar. His whole identity is centred on the fact that he could not see, and as a result he didn’t work a job, he sat on the side of the road begging.
I recently looked at his story in a new bible study I am doing for a few weeks. We focused on Bartimaeus’ vulnerability and how he openly expressed his deep need and desire for God. His problem was obvious - he was blind - but when Jesus asks Bartimaeus what he wants him to do for him, Bartimaeus opens up to Jesus, telling him he wants to see.
Jesus proclaims that it is Bartimaeus’ faith that healed him. Bartimaeus’ belief in Jesus allowed him to experience healing and the story goes onto say that he followed Jesus along the road. He didn’t need to beg anymore because he could see.
His lack of sight did not need to define his identity anymore. Instead it is his relationship with God that defines him. Bartimaeus’ old life is gone and a new life has come.
So what does this mean for us?
You know in those tough patches when you can’t see God, when he seems distant, when you think or feel like you are doing life on your own. Well, just remember, that Jesus’ death and resurrection (the greatest act of love) changes everything everyday. A life with Jesus can’t be the same no matter what. There is no need to do this life on our own any longer.
In those moments when you feel alone or your problems seem bigger than what you can manage on your own, remember that you can receive peace and strength from God. God can sustain you through these tough times.
Even if you feel like God is not working in your life at the moment. Even when there are things that are happening that seem like God couldn’t possibly have allowed. Even when you can’t see how certain circumstances could get better - think to the death and resurrection of Jesus, and of the powerful Holy Spirit that lives inside you.
Remember that the Creator knows you by name and wants you to have life to the fullest.
There will be times when we need to be vulnerable with God. We may need to express our desire and deep need for God and His love in order for our lives and circumstances to experience change.
Allow this to change your perspective and to grow you as a person. Having Jesus in your life means that you aren’t doing it on your own. You don’t need to live the individualistic life that Western culture persuades us to live. Doing life with Jesus in your everyday can enhance your quality of life and bring opportunity into areas you may have never thought possible.
Rebecca Hoverd studies law and geography at The University of Auckland and loves writing as a way to communicate with God and to unpack her thoughts. She loves coffee, conversations, and would love to hear your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. // Photo: Tim Pavis
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