a blog from our pastors and staff
By Andrew Fidurko, Assistant Pastor - Hillside Wesleyan Church - Olean, NY
I believe we are all on a spiritual journey. As Christians this is the call we have on our lives: we need to be able to reflect on the things of Christ and how he is using us, molding us, and changing us.
"That, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth."
2 Corinthians 5:17
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come."
Today I want to talk about the basics of the Christian life. Day to Day Christianity can have the fullness that we desire. This happens when we start to point our hearts towards the things that give God joy and the things that break God’s heart. The Christian life is two-fold. First, there is time of solitude (not isolation, but solitude) where it is just myself with God Almighty. And secondly, the Christian life is done in community with others with like-mindedness about Christian beliefs. We need to strike the balance of both for God to continue His good work inside of us.
Let’s talk a bit about solitude. Now, I am not saying that you have to become a monk to have solitude, but in monasteries throughout the centuries, the practice of solitude has led to a practice of the presence of God. God is ever present in your life. Picture Him there next to you right now. God loves you and is with you now, just like He was with you in the last struggle. His angels are there to help fulfill His mission, and you can help to be His hands and feet, and eyes and ears of this world.
Solitude is a state of mind and heart, rather than a physical place. Jesus chose this during His mission. In Matthew 4-11, He spent forty days and forty nights in the desert. In Luke 6:12, He spent the entire night alone in the desert hills before choosing His disciples, and Matthew 14:13, after the death of John the baptist, He withdrew on a boat to a solitary place.
Where are the quiet and solitary places in your life? Is it in a park or at your desk? In the car on the way to work or during your morning cup of coffee? We need to take advantage of these little times of solitude throughout our day. Maybe time it on our watch or phone, 5 minutes of just quiet and still. Listening to God. Of course, you will have to have a question on your heart, but do not just keep filling your mind with questions, prayers, and petitions. Instead, just be in the presence of God and allow yourself to let go of that moment.
Now, let’s talk about Community. I believe that we are called to be the body of Christ for a reason. I believe God created us to be able to help each other. If Jack can paint a house in 10 hours, and Jill can paint a house in 10 hours, how long would it take them to paint a house together? A lot less time! A lot less effort on both parts, and the fulfillment will be there as well as the connection that builds between them. Not only in service, but with other gifts it is important to be able to share the struggles of our hearts. Not only with God, but with other Christians. “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” --Matthew 18:20
Accountability is a built-in benefit of community. As we draw closer to each other, we start naturally seeing the standard in which we are living out our faith with God. This is not anything to shy away from. Any strong Christian will tell you it was a process for them in growth to get where they are. We live in such a shame based culture, that when we feel we do not measure up, we stop. But that prevents the growth that we actually seek. In community with others, we can actually share testimony and growth stories to help us understand that there is really no condemnation in Christ. There is love and grace.
I encourage you to have an accountability partner or mentor that would be able to help you through these lessons and struggles. The lies of the devil are hidden in secret, but it is only in the light (bringing them out in community, even with just one person) that will help this.
Again, I recommend writing or typing things out for our remembrance so that we can have these reminders throughout the day of our daily life or over all goals. Meditate on these, and let God help show you the next step of your answer to these prayers. Holiness is a high standard in our society today. Growth is the goal.
Lord God, help us to understand the love and grace that You give us as children of God. God, also help us to step up in our devotion to You. Help us to step up with our time with You. Help our lives have an abundance of prayer, and help us to rely on You with all that we can do. Grow us deeply Lord.
In Jesus name, Amen.