This is the fifth in a series of five articles on going From Survive to Thrive in our lives. The first article had some introductory sections in it. If you haven’t read those yet and would like to – click here – the page will open in a new window so you won’t lose this page.
We’re covering five areas in our lives that need to go from survive to thrive…
This article will cover faith. Click the links above for the other articles.
Our Faith Needs to Thrive
I go through periods of spiritual thriving, but I would say the majority of the time I am in more of a survival mode when it comes to my faith.
Are we really living by faith on a day to day basis?
It’s hard for me to suggest that I am really living by faith most days. I mean really, in this day and time, in this country, in this society – do you really have to drum up much faith to make it through a day?
Most of us have more than what we need to survive – at least if you are reading this, you probably do. I am never in want for food, shelter, or clothing.
I hang out with people that generally agree with some of the same foundational truths that I adhere to. I live a very comfortable life. But, would anyone look at my life and think, man – he believes in God – what great faith he must have?
What part of my life might indicate to anyone that I have a faith that is thriving? What do I do to show others my faith? What do I say or proclaim that might make them feel like I am living by faith in all that I do?
Do I look anything like those characters from the Bible that lived by faith? Those New Testament Christians that fled their homes for fear of death yet trusted that God would take care of them and provide for them – would I have been one of those Christians? Or what about Daniel, would I have been praying three times a day, knowing that there was a decree that might send me to the lion’s den for expressing and showing my faith in God? Would I be in the lion’s den or the den at my house where the large screen TV is hanging on the wall?
Why do we allow ourselves to stay in survival mode spiritually? Of all the areas of our life, this is the one that we should really want to thrive in. It’s the most important, right? We say it is – think of the top three priorities in your life – God is always #1 right? But, we don’t treat our relationship with Him as #1 most of the time do we? How much time do we spend thriving in our spiritual lives?
Maybe we compartmentalize it? Maybe we think the spiritual has to be separate from the other areas of our life, that’s what makes it too difficult to spend a lot of time on it. I can attest to the fact that the less time I spend on something, generally the less and less it stays at the forefront of my life. Hard for me to thrive in something I spend very little time on.
So, how can I move from survive to thrive when it comes to my faith?
It’s Your Faith
One of the largest detractors from my faith is my continual allowance of others to control what I believe or what I do spiritually. I allow them to have control over me and what I am willing to admit to believing. We are driven largely by what others think when it comes to our spirituality.
It’s tough though, right? It’s hard to thrive in our faith when it doesn’t match up 100% with what others around us are professing and what we are “expected” to profess.
The majority of our identities are tied up in our faith families. We are largely defined by where we go to church, who we go to church with, and what our families believe.
We need to live our own faith. We have to be willing to say, “It doesn’t matter what they think.” We need to remember that our faith is our faith – between us and God. It isn’t between us and someone else and God. It’s our faith.
It’s hard for me to thrive in someone else’s faith!
We probably need to rediscover what our faith is. I am in a pretty constant cruise-control pattern when it comes to my faith. I can show up to church and just do the whole church thing without even thinking about. I am not growing, not thriving in my faith, because I am no longer challenging anything, no longer discovering anything new. I assume I have it all figured out. I don’t have it all figured out though or else I would be thriving.
You want to stay in survival mode with your faith? Just believe what you are “supposed” to believe, what everyone else believes. Try to convince your heart of something that even your head has a hard time accepting.
That’s not healthy – that’s a great way to end up lost in survival mode.
I was baptized when I was 11 years old. My main motivation for becoming a Christian at the time, in all of my vast wisdom (said facetiously of course), was that I knew I didn’t want to go to Hell. I don’t think that is an entirely bad motivation. I really don’t want to go to Hell. But, I think that negative motivational force in my life keeps me on the survival track.
I am motivated, because I don’t want to go to Hell – true. But, I’ve come to realize over time that I really don’t want to end up in Heaven, just because I was afraid of going to Hell.
I want to go to Heaven, because I love God and want to do everything in my power to please Him.
I truly desire to have a healthier motivation for pleasing God – not fear, but love. Love for God for who He is. Love for Him, because of His generous mercy, and grace, and love. Love for Christ and His sacrifice for me.
In order to thrive in our faith, we need to have the proper motivation – love!
Sometimes, I know for myself for sure, we have to force the motivation. I have to constantly remind myself of what God has done for me, because I all too often take it for granted – so I study with friends. I send emails. I read books or other articles about spiritual things. I read God’s word and talk to God. I have to continually renew my hunger and thirst for God to keep my faith thriving.
Turn Feelings Into Actions
One of the largest stumbling blocks to my faith though is my lack of action. I think a lot of things. I believe a lot of things. I feel a lot of things. But, I don’t do a lot of things.
I feel like, from going to church my whole life, that I should be good at this part. But, if you think about it – most of our time at church is spent just studying the same things over and over. We discuss historical facts. We hear sermons on the same parables. We do a lot of talking and feeling. Not much doing. We can’t keep just studying this stuff – we have to go do something with it.
We might sit there on a Sunday morning and be extremely motivated and moved by the service, the songs, the sermon – and then we go to lunch and forget about it. You know it happens more often than we want to admit. I know it does to me. I can literally have just heard a sermon about helping the poor and speed right past the guy at the end of the off-ramp, because I am in a hurry to meet some friends for lunch after our Sunday morning worship service. That’s a man who is thriving in his faith, right? Sadly, no, it isn’t. I have to turn my thoughts, beliefs, and feelings into action.
I am ready though to thrive. I am all in! I am ready to quit playing at this faith thing. It’s all or nothing. God doesn’t want part of my heart, part of my soul – He wants it all. He wants me to thrive spiritually. He wants me to live by faith. And He wants the same for you and from you.
Crazy Love Stories
It just so happens… maybe it’s providence… that I am finishing this article on Valentine’s Day. Here’s why I say that…
Have you ever done something crazy for someone that you were in love with? I have. My wife and I had our first date 21 years ago today. I would do absolutely anything for that girl.
One time I remember, when we were dating in high school, we both lived in Cypress, CA. I went out late one night and I cut pretty much any flower I could find within a two mile radius of my love’s house. I cut them from businesses, some from neighbors’s yards, probably even a few from the police station (not a smart move by the way). But, I took all of those flowers and put them on my love’s front porch. Her front porch was covered in flowers. Her mom kind of questioned where I got all those flowers and the next day her front porch was covered in ants, but I would do anything for her affection, because I loved her.
I am sure you have similar crazy love stories of things you did for your love.
So, let me ask you this – let me ask myself this… Why don’t we have any crazy love stories like that about us and our Savior?
Why do I struggle to think of anything that I have done that really shows that I have stepped out in love and faith for Christ?
I want to have crazy love stories with my Savior.
I want to live a life where it feels like you could easily get me confused with one of the characters from the book of Acts.
I want to look like I walked out of the Bible – not out of the Bible Belt. I don’t want my neighbors to assume that I am a man of faith, because they see me in a suit on Sunday morning getting into my car. I don’t want them to assume I am a Christian. I want my neighbors to know I am a Christian, because I look and act like Christ – not because I look like an “American Christian.” I want my community to be moved by some crazy love stories I have about me and Christ and my life of faith.
I want to thrive in my faith.
It must be our faith.
We must have proper motivation – true love for God.
We have to focus and live intentionally.
We have to turn all of our feelings into actions.
We must strive to transform our lives from survive to thrive!