Are We Growing Deeper in Relationship with God,
Or Are We Just Making Coffee?
The personal question to reflect on for this session is this: If my personal relationship with God was truly the most important – the number one focus – in my life, how would my daily activities and routines be different than they are right now?
Honestly…even as I pose that question for my listeners and readers, I’m cringing a bit for myself. I know if I reflect on that question with any real depth, that I might be convicted to make some changes in my daily routine, and that can be hard for me because I’m a creature of habits, as we all are to a certain extent – and it’s hard to change habits. It takes a renewed commitment to do so.
Let’s look at another teaching presented by
metaphor by Jesus. This one is another metaphor, or actually two, He uses two
metaphors to make one point.
Now, this is a continuation of last week’s
episode. Do you remember what was happening in our last teaching? Jesus and his
disciples were being criticized because they were not fasting. They were not
maintaining this tradition that the Pharisees were maintaining and that John's
disciples were maintaining. And Jesus responded with a wedding metaphor. And
what Jesus said was essentially –
Change your thinking about religious
traditions. Some things are more important that religious traditions, such as
relationships, our relationship with others and with God.
Then immediately after the metaphor about His
reason for not following the fasting tradition at that time, Jesus tells two
more metaphors. Here it is in Mark 2:21-22. Jesus said:
“No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an
old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old,
and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he
does, the wine will burst the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”
What Jesus has done here, is He has taken his
dialogue from a specific teaching on a specific tradition (the fasting
tradition) and he then uses two additional metaphors in order to expand his
point and make it even further reaching.
Jesus is telling his critics that, once again,
they should re-examine their ways of thinking and their ways of doing things.
With these two metaphors, Jesus tells them that what He teaches them is going
to seem new to them, and His ways are not going to easily mesh with the ways
that they have been focusing on their traditions, their rules, and rituals
If you attach a patch made of new cloth onto
an old, shrunken garment – it doesn’t work. When it is washed, the new patch
will soon tear off and make the original tear even worse. Jesus is essentially
telling them, “My teachings are not going to be something new that you can just
tack on to what you are already doing. It’s not going to attach. It won’t
stick. You will stay just as torn as you are and potentially even worse
off.” Then, in the next metaphor, Jesus
“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”
It’s the same idea, He is saying, “You can’t
pour these new teachings into the vessel that you have been using. It’s going
to burst the container. You need a completely new wineskin container. You need
to change your understanding and your perspective so it is renewed.” And Jesus
is saying all of this within the context of minimizing tradition and focusing
on relationships – on the relationship with God and with others.
So let’s return back to the question for us
today. Are there any traditions or routines that we have been using or relying
on in our daily or weekly habits - that could be potentially hindering our growth
with God - or at least maybe they are holding us back, or are substituting for
a closer relationship with God?
Let me give you an example from my own
marriage – in the mornings, my husband Corbin wakes up before I do, and he
makes the coffee and he typically makes my cup of coffee for me. He has been
doing this routine act of kindness for years. It’s to the point now where if he
wakes up later than me, or if for some reason the coffee isn’t made by the time
I wake up, I will joke and say, “I guess I have to make my own coffee today?” I
am intending that to be sarcastic and a bit funny when I say it– but I’m not
sure it always comes off that way. The point that I am trying to make is that
what started as an act of thoughtfulness and kindness has become routine and
with less thought put into it. And as it becomes more routine it becomes more
of an expectation on my end. The tradition of my husband making my coffee for me
is now routine and it does not substitute for other things that are needed to
keep our relationship strong. Now, I realize I’m going to probably get in a
little trouble for saying this – so Corbin, if you do listen to this or read
it, I want you to know that I love you and I’m very thankful for all the cups
of coffee you have prepared for me over the years! I’m just trying to make a
point here – that is all.
The traditions, the issue with our religious
traditions and routines is – we often rely on those, after they have become
habits – as the only thing we are doing to represent our closeness with God. Just
like a cup of coffee in the morning does not substitute for the love and growth
in a close relationship.
So if we are really seeking a closeness with
God…how would our daily routines and activities change? Would they need to
The spiritual truths don't just attach by tacking them on.
Sometimes I have to stop and
reflect, “Do I think that I have grown spiritually with God over the past year
– or have I backslid or stagnated?” One way to measure this is to consider the
growth of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.
Have we become more loving over the past year? More patient? More kind?
More peaceful? Are we more joyful than we were a year ago? Are we able to
withstand difficulties and trials with more peace than before? For me, if the answer is no – or if the answer
is that I have stagnated – it usually come down to this reason: I have allowed my relationship with God to
become marked by routines and habits, a quick morning prayer here, a quick
scripture reading there without actually reflecting on it. It’s kind of like
I’m just making cups of coffee, and yes it once was a special act, but it’s
become so routine it’s not as meaningful anymore, and I am no longer growing
because the relationship isn’t growing.
So let’s realize that it may
be time to consider that just “making the coffee” and doing the spiritual daily
habits aren’t moving us forward into new ways of growing and walking with God.
We need to consider if we are really present in our own time with Him, and if not,
we will hopefully find these teachings of Jesus to be motivators for us to
refresh our thinking and refresh our daily habits so that we truly are in a
growing relationship with God, and not just in a stagnant routine.
Finally, if you think you would benefit from some additional readings on methods and strategies which may be new for you and may help you in renewing the time you spend with God, then I have written a short but powerful book which can be found on Amazon. It is called Closer toGod: Simple Methods, Starting Today. I have received good
feedback from many who have read it, and they have told me it has helped them to renew and get re-motivated again in their relationship with God. It is only available at Amazon and if you have a Kindle Unlimited membership, you can read it for free. If you don’t have a Kindle Unlimited membership you can get a membership, usually free for the first 30 days and you can still read it for free during that first month. It’s also available as a Kindle book and as a paperback. It’s just a resource I want my readers and listeners to know is readily available if anyone is trying to think of some renewed strategies to help us with our spiritual motivation and to be more present with God in our day to day lives. Again it is titled, Closer to God: Simple Methods, Starting Today and it is published under the author name: Sherry Elaine Evans
If you would like to learn simple, practical ways to walk with God every single day, then you would really enjoy Closer to God: Simple Methods, Starting Today
If you need motivation to eat healthier or lose weight while also growing
closer to God, then you would enjoy Weight Loss for Christians, An
|Book on Amazon
If you want to learn more deeply and fully about what Jesus taught, then you would enjoy He Called: 56 Daily Studies and Reflections with the Words of Christ.
The author also interacts with her readers on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GospelLifeBooks
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Author's other books can be found at: https://www.amazon.com/Sherry-Elaine-Evans