Faith is About Everyday Life
A few years ago I decided to do a “Whole 30”.
For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is essentially a clean-eating plan that eliminates some potentially problematic foods with the goal of determining what foods help you to feel your best. The program is only meant to last for 30 days, followed by a whole re-introduction plan that you closely monitor to determine what foods you should consider eliminating for good, or adding back in moderation, etc.
The thing is, the program is only supposed to last for 30 days because it is absolutely impractical and unhealthy and no fun to carry on longer than that.
It is too restrictive – to follow it indefinitely would be to make it nearly impossible to eat at a restaurant, or celebrate a birthday, or accept a dinner party invitation. And while in some ways it was helpful to me, I’ve realized that it has also given me a bit of a complex about some foods that is just ridiculous.
Whole 30 is not about everyday life.
Its an unsustainable lifestyle adopted for a finite window of time with a very narrow/specific goal.
Thank goodness that is not the way of Jesus.
Following Jesus, having faith in Jesus, is ALL ABOUT everyday life.
It is not something that restricts and prohibits and chastises you for a little while and then expects you to go back into your real life alone and burdened and wary of anyone different than you.
Following Jesus is about inviting Him into all the complexities of life – workplaces, families, friendships – allowing Him to show you how to lead and react and love in helpful, practical ways right where you are.
Our faith is sustainable because it isn’t about restrictions and separation but about leaning in wherever God has placed you.
What a relief.
So over this week you should grab a gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, all-natural, organic unsweetened snack and …wait a second. No more whole 30, Melissa!
Just grab your Bible (or Bible App) and dive into the last couple of chapters of Ephesians with me as we figure out a whole life together with Jesus…
Day 1: Be prepared.
Read: Ephesians 6:10-20
I don’t want to belabour the Whole 30 metaphor thing (too late!)…but the only way to be successful for those 30 days of restrictions is to be prepared.
Like, you need to meal plan and grocery shop and pre-prep snacks so that you won’t be tempted to stuff your face with your usual go-to, highly processed and deeply delicious convenience food for a month. It’s a lot of work.
Our passage today conjures images of war, of a battle with all of the evil that’s in the world and the weapons we need to fight it.
And its true that there is evil, and forces that we can and cannot see, that we need to be aware of and ready for. I mean, verse 12 is pretty clear about that.
But I think the heart of the passage is actually about being prepared.
Whether you feel like everyday is an overt battle against evil, or its just a regular struggle of inviting Jesus into the ordinary routine of work, school, relationships etc., the key to following Jesus is being purposeful in that pursuit.
Often it isn’t so much about going to battle with others, but instead about taking the time and space to be ready for the attacks of impatience, frustration, deadlines, unrealistic expectations, cranky family members and needy friends. You name it. Are you prepared?
Reflect and Pray:
1. As you read the Bible passage for today, what aspects of the armour that Paul describes are you needing help with fitting on your body? Do you need more truth? Righteousness? Peace? Is your faith floundering?
2. Sit quietly, close your eyes and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you how you can better prepare yourself each day to walk in the way of Jesus.
If there is a specific area that comes to mind, ask for help – maybe a next step, or a new practice/habit – that will help you to be able to live a daily life of faith.
Day 2: Your Work.
Read: Ephesians 6:5-9
Maybe you work full-time. Maybe you wish you did.
Maybe you are a student. Maybe you are juggling studying and working.
Maybe you work hard but are unpaid. Maybe you are retired.
Maybe you are happily unemployed.
Maybe you work for others. Maybe others work for you.
While every situation is unique – our calling to work and work with excellence is not.
In light of our passage today how, as followers of Jesus, do we bring our faith into our workplaces?
1. How is your relationship with your co-workers? Are you a team-player or a lone ranger? Are you helpful or only concerned with what’s on your list of responsibilities? How can you ask Jesus to help you with your relationship with your co-workers?
2. How is your relationship with your boss? Do you work with excellence or only do you do only what is required? Are easily distracted (ie. Surfing the internet,etc.) or fully engaged? Are you bitter/frustrated by your lack of advancement or praise you believe you deserve? How can you ask Jesus to help you with your relationship with your boss?
3. How is your relationship with your subordinates? Do they feel supported or do you think they are looking for more guidance/help/feedback? Do they trust you? How can you ask Jesus to help you with your relationship with those that work for you?
Read: Ephesians 6:1-4 and Exodus 20:12
“…That it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” v. 3
Have you ever thought that your attitude toward your parents, your treatment of them might be affecting the …”that it may go well with you…” portion of your life?
I don’t know your story. I don’t know your parents. I don’t know if you are a parent now.
I don’t know the hurt and joy and complications and difficulties and triumphs that have happened and are happening in your familial relationships.
With your parents. With your kids.
Only you and God know that.
But I do know that I want every promise, every blessing, every ounce of intimacy with God that He offers up.
I want it to go well with me. I want to enjoy a long life on the earth. I’m sure you do too.
Lets talk to him about it.
Listening Prayer Exercise
Start by being quiet. I usually start a 5 minute timer (I need help being quiet).
Close your eyes. Pay attention to your breathing.
As you breathe in, speak/whisper/think “Jesus”. As you exhale, speak “show me”
When you are ready (or when the timer goes off) keep your eyes closed and remember a time and place from your childhood that you felt safe and happy and loved. Take note of what was happening, and who was there, and why it is such a happy memory for you. If you are confused by what comes to mind, ask Jesus about it. If you are not, just revel in that memory for a minute and when you are ready, make a list of the things you are thankful for about that moment/memory. Gratitude for our gifts has so very much to do with things going well with us.
Now, close your eyes again and ask Jesus to call to mind a relational struggle you are dealing with right now. It may or may not be with your parents, your own kids – or it may be with a friend or co-worker. Ask Jesus how you can honour God and honour your parents/parental figures/heritage in this struggle. Listen for His leading and thank Him for his presence and promises to you.
Day 4: Your church.
Read: Ephesians 5:21-33
So maybe you think I’m avoiding the topic of submission in marriage. Like, isn’t it the “obvious” subject of this passage?!?!
But I was struck fresh by the implications of Ephesians 5:32 for the church …and I want you to be struck too!
The verse says: “This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
What is the “this” Paul is talking about? What is the mystery?
Well, it is found in the verse before… we hear it read at weddings and in sermons about marriage all of the time:
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
Paul says this is a mystery – how the church and Jesus become one.
Marriage becomes the metaphor for the miraculous union of the divine and His disciples.
Christ and the church. Jesus and you and me. Us. An unbreakable, ordained union.
That is a mystery.
But the Holy Spirit led Paul to help us make sense of our role as the body of Christ, on how to live that out in our everyday lives.
And he decided to use marriage as the picture.
A marriage that is rooted in mutual love and submission and respect.
A marriage committed to self-sacrifice and forgiveness and care and unity.
That is what the relationship between the church and Jesus is supposed to look like.
And since we know that Jesus is the perfect bridegroom…how are we holding up on our side of the union, brides?
- Take some time to reflect on how the marriages you’ve encountered in your life (your own, your parents, your friends, etc.) impact your view of the church and Jesus. Be honest.
- If The Well is your church – how are we loving and submitting and respecting Jesus and one another? Are we putting Jesus and others before ourselves, are we forgiving and believing the best about each other? Do we care for one another, and pursue unity more than being right? Are we even present in this union?
Have an honest conversation with Jesus about this. Ask Him what he wants you to do with all of this!
Day 5: Faith is about Everyday Life.
Read: Ephesians 5:21 – 6:24
Profound mystery. That is what this is.
That a book, that letters, that lives that were lived literally thousands of years ago can not only be relatable and relevant but can actually change our lives for the better today. Right now. It is a profound mystery.
And its true. It really is.
I’m so sure that the way of Jesus – that following Him and His teaching, His life and His spirit that is living and active right now –
is the answer to what the deepest desires of our hearts are I wouldn’t want for you to miss it.
Sometimes we can get distracted and mired down in the cares of the world and we miss that the faith we have isn’t meant to just be a part of our life.
Its meant to be our life.
And that the insights and answers we are searching for are often, at least in part, found in a community of people who are pursuing the ways of Jesus together.
Maybe one of the saddest things for me is that the world believes that the church, that the Bible and followers of Jesus are out of touch.
Its one of the reasons that we do Alpha every year at The Well.
The topics covered in Alpha remind us that God is real and that He loves each one of us. Now. Where we are.
That He wants to have a relationship with us, and help us grow closer to Him. Today. In 2021.
He wants to be a part of our everyday life.
There is someone in your life that needs to hear that God is real. That He loves them. That He wants a relationship with them.
I just know it.
Maybe the next step is to invite them to church. Maybe it is to invite them to Alpha (we’re running it online you know! October 7th is the first week!).
Maybe its just to tell them about your experience with Jesus.
Take some time to pray for whoever it is that is on your heart and your mind. Trust that the Holy Spirit will do the work that only He can do. And ask for the courage to obey do whatever it is you feel God is calling you to do to share your faith with others.