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Online Articles

Are you fluent – in Christ?



For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God… Hebrews 5:12



Many of us have had the opportunity to “learn” a language in high school or college.  I quoted learn because many of us were forced to take Spanish, French or Latin in school due to a foreign language requirement for graduating.  Unfortunately, just because you were taught for one or two years doesn’t mean you learned a foreign language nor does it make you fluent.  I’d like to spend a few minutes evaluating our language learning experiences and incorporate these “lessons learned” into our Spiritual lives.

Over the past year I’ve read several self-help, habit, learning and language blogs for fun and out of curiosity but also in an attempt to become more fluent in Spanish.  Interestingly, some key concepts continued to surface that seemed to be critical to all areas of our lives – business, personal, spiritual.  I want to spend a few moments on these three concepts: goals, habits and mechanics.  By no means is this a comprehensive list and will not be extensively detailed, but highlighting these concepts might help our Christian journey be more successful.

Goals – What are our goals?  Many times we hear – I want to be a Christian and I want to go to heaven.  While those are good goals to have they are also broad, vague and unmeasurable.  Think S.M.A.R.T – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Timely.  Again, I want to be a Christian and go to heaven – how?  Obviously, the best starting point would be the bible.  After all, it is the good news and contains the plan of salvation.  There are so many things we can do as Christians and sometimes we can get overwhelmed by the choices.  My wife hates for me to go shopping because many times I will spend 30 minutes on the cereal aisle trying to decide which cereal I really want.  Analysis paralysis!  Unfortunately, I can’t decide what your personal goals are for your spiritual journey but we see a lot of great examples in the bible… what do you want to do and where do your strengths lie? Also, you need a plan to successfully execute your goals so you can actually track and achieve them.  Your lifetime goals become a reality based on the repeated successful completion of your yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals.  But don’t just talk about what you want to do, identify your goals and write them down so you can track your progress.  Put this list somewhere you will see daily.  (Consider - 2 Timothy 4:7-8)

Habits – OK, you’ve set your goals.  That’s great but reality sets in and you haven’t done much to achieve your goals.  Goals without an action plan are just dreams.  Many of us failed to become fluent in a foreign language because of a lack of daily consistency.  Learning a language doesn’t happen overnight and takes a lot of hard work.  Likewise, if you expect to be a Christian by merely attending services a few times a week without other daily activities it’s doubtful you will be successful.  So, how?  We have to establish good habits (spiritual) to replace bad habits (worldly).  For example, daily reading and praying is critical to spiritual growth.  We could easily accomplish just these two daily activities if we made a commitment and scheduled the appropriate time.  It generally takes 30 to 90 days before an activity becomes an embedded habit.  Identify the habits you need to implement to support your Christian goals and make them permanent by consistently performing the action. (Consider - 1 Corinthians 9:27)

Mechanics – There are two pieces to a language: Input & output.  These two parts can be broken down to four components: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking.  Many of us were not successful learning language “X” because in our formal setting we paid particular attention to grammar and vocabulary.  Often times, it’s much easier to just engage in the theoretical aspects of language (primarily input) instead of advancing to the more demanding output of conversation.  It’s not that we don’t want to but there is this certain level of uncomfortableness, plus it’s a lot of hard work to get to the point where you could actually converse.  I think our Christianity is quite similar; if we are not careful, we really focus a lot on input and not enough on output.  Think about how many hours we spend listening to sermons, teachers, prayers and songs but how little time we spend communicating that message beyond the walls of our building.  I’m not suggesting everyone become an evangelist but just consider how active or passive you are as a disciple of Christ.  Your light could shine through in many forms as we develop relationships with Christians and non-Christians alike.  For instance, Christ in all his authority was very kind, loving and compassionate unlike others in positions of power.  Just as it is going to be difficult to become fluent in a language in a classroom environment so will it be difficult to be a Christian when the primary focus is inside the artificial environment of a building.  The fact is you can’t separate and compartmentalize your life for Christ; either you are a Christian 7x24x365 or you’re not. (Consider - John 13:34-35 & the story of the Samaritan)

Finally, this may not have been the perfect comparison (foreign language vs. Christianity) but I hope this short article illustrates the difficulties we all experience in maintaining focus as we work on accomplishing our goals.  It’s important to remember to consider the talents God has blessed us with and use them to their fullest.  Many times, I personally feel like I am straddling the world and Christ with each decision I’m faced and I often wonder how much easier my life might be if I would just let go of the world and hold on to Christ.  What is your focus and where do you invest your time – in the world or Christ? (Consider – Romans 12)