Hanging out has been a big blessing to me. Experiences others have shared with me during such times have been life-altering. I also got exposed to stories my friends would not have shared with me otherwise. (I would have learnt more about my friends, alas – I speak a lot more than I listen!)
Living as a community is a lovely thing. In many ways, God wants this to happen. After all, Jesus and his disciples and the first church were known for living community-oriented lives, all for honouring God and for benefitting others (Matt 22:37, Acts 2:42-47).
As Christians today, I hope we at Marg want to influence our friends and colleagues with the one thing that will change them forever – the incredible news of Jesus. Here is where Christians who are the life of the party come in. They often go to great lengths to invite friends over. They go out of their way, make new friends comfortable. From such “life of the party” folks, we stand much to gain from and to learn.
But of late, I have been mindful of the limitations I face when I try to be the life of the party.
1. I might be in touch only with lives, superficially. This has happened when I move from one event to the next in the week with an aim to get it done, and have little spiritual concern for the people I am meeting. Am I really rejoicing with those who rejoice, weeping with those who weep (Rom 12:15)? Did not our God rejoice with me and weep with me?
May it not be that after all, God exposes our hang-outs to be as useful as hay and straw. Am I a person whose concerns were taken care of by God, but did not care to know the troubles others faced?
2. I might be hanging out only where I am comfortable. The community has people who may not in the invited-list. The psycho. The F-word champion. The immoral woman. Jesus was known for being a Godly influence over social outcasts (Mark 2:15,16). Do I spend time with such? When did I last pray to God to show me people He would be with? Am I pleasing my longings more than serving them?
3. I could be having parties at the expense of feasting with Jesus. In a life full of serving the diseased and down-trodden and dining with the outcasts, Jesus kept time with His Father (Matt 14:23). It was his custom, a tradition he would not let go of, sometimes at the cost of great ministry opportunities (Luke 5:15-16, Hebrews 5:7).
Spending time with friends, beyond bed-time. Just till this movie ends. A string of late-night outings turn into an iron chain, choking my time of Bible study and praying before God and with the church community. This happens, not out of love and sacrifice, but mostly from a lack of self-control (Gal 5:22-24).
Are you a “life-of-the-party” Christian? Do you relate with these struggles?
Do share your experience.
Next week – The dangers of being a Marg man/woman of God.