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Monday, November 26, 2012

Being a Safe, Faithful Servant and a Supportive, Spiritual Friend

So, the past little while had me looking through a couple of things that I should keep into mind. What I noticed from this author in the portion of the book that I was reading the past couple of weeks was that people do want to talk about God and spirituality, but it's hard to know who is safe to talk with about these things. This was rather peculiar to me. What he was saying was that not every is easy to be trusted, which I understand quite well. I still have trouble trusting certain people depending on how they behaved around me. For me, I prefer having someone come up and actively listen and allow me to think and decide for myself instead of forcing a bunch of stuff down my throat. And that's kind of what the author was getting at.

Another thing that I noticed was something that we often talk about but don't always practice: we need to practice serving to others, and that can be done by identifying a physical need without expecting something spiritual to come out from this. If we were to expect that to come each time, then what's the point of serving? So if someone is feeling down, the best thing to do is to nicely approach the person, and actively listen to what's going on with that person. Just don't do it in a way that may appear to be creepy. Also, we need to be considerate about how we act and how we see faith. Faith should be something that drives you more into learning something, an adventure in its own right; it doesn't need to be used as an excuse or copy-paste answer to everything that is done through some of the acts under the name of God. God also called us to serve others and he blessed us so that we can bless others through him, just like his promise with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). This, I thought, was rather cool because it means that whatever's we do is not for our own pleasure, but for the blessing of others that is also pleasing to God.

Another good thing to note is that it's better to be an active listener and ask questions to get your friend thinking instead of hashing up answers all the time, and that we can help give space by allowing our spiritual friends to check out churches by their choice rather than always inviting them to your particular church (it could damage your friendship, so not pushing this is allowing space for your friend). However, sometimes going to church may not be a good idea for your friend. Also, asking questions allows the friend to think further and reflect. As Brian D. McLaren said, "As long as people keep thinking, they're giving room for God to work in their lives." I find that he's right in saying this because people need to encounter God for themselves, though having a community of spiritual people can help facilitate the encounter a bit.

If there's anything that I've noticed to have a struggle with, it's faith. How Brian puts it is like a flame on a candle that needs to be encouraged and supported in order to shine brighter and warmer and more consistently. We sometimes question whether or not our faith is real, but I feel that we all just need a little nudge from God itself to reassure our faith and to give us strength to reassure our friends about the same. Brian, as I have read from him so far, stated that having doubt can be holy as we are seeking for truth. It is this truth that leads us to faith and understanding.

So my take-home message is this: try to be helpful, faithful and supportive with your friend, and if always remember that God is right there with you to strengthen you. A verse that I tend to resonate with for this is Philippians 4:13, which states: "I can do all things through Him that gives me strength" (NIV). As long as we remember that God will strengthen us, then we will be able to do whatever it is that we are called to do.

Take care,

Alex