Real Christianity or an Artificial Attempt

Girl standing in flowersIf you water, fertilize and fuss over an artificial plant, will it grow?  Of course not.  It will never change for the better.  In fact, all that attention would probably convert an attractive silk flower arrangement into a mess.

Real plants grow, and flowers bloom. Conversely they wilt when the conditions are not right (or when someone forgets to water them.  Oops.)  It would be absurd to take meticulous care of an artificial plant while ignoring living flowers.

Yet, I do it all the time.  Spiritually speaking, that is.  Jesus Christ offers growing, blooming, real life, but too often I nourish the artificial in me rather than Jesus.

Jesus Christ is the transformative presence in a Christian’s life.  He is the creator of everything meaningful, lasting, and real in my life Only that which I do to his glory will last for eternity, while that which I do for my own satisfaction will not. When my focus is on my efforts to further my name and my plans instead of those of Jesus Christ, I am fertilizing the artificial instead of the real.

In my experience it is extremely easy to move from walking with and following Jesus, real life, and living for myself, feeding the artificial.   I find myself veering to the wrong side without even realizing it.  I can live my life in the power of Jesus name, or I can attempt to do it in my own strength.  Guess which one works better, and is more satisfying, joyful and fruitful?

Paul addressed this tension in Colossians 2 by encouraging his readers to walk with Jesus rather than being “taken captive by empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world.”  He wants us to live real life; not artificial existence.  He says our artificial ways are “a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality however, is found in Christ.”  (Colossians 2:17)

The only way to make sure we’re living and walking with Jesus is to purposefully set our minds on Him every day, or several times a day.  If we don’t, we will absolutely follow our natural instincts and human traditions.

The defining danger of missing this mind-set is that of replacing the work of Jesus Christ with our own effort.  Jesus saved us, and he wants to work through us to His glory, but if we continue to try to do it ourselves we will be stuck wondering why the artificial plant doesn’t grow.

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.  See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”  Colossians 2:6-8

How do you stay focused on walking with Jesus?  Do you ever water an artificial plant?

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Sadness and Joy

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Do you resist feeling sad?  When you’re feeling a little blue, do you feel sad about being sad?  Sometimes feeling sad is the only way to feel.  When facing the loss of a loved one or serious personal upheaval it is impossible to resist feeling sad.  Other … Continue reading

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Hope for Parents in the Middle of July

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It is now the middle of July and the kids have been home for long enough to spend time with you, unstructured valuable time, take part in educational or sporting activities, relax a little, help around the house, and read.  … Continue reading

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What I’ve Learned from Thirty Years of Parenting

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Thirty years ago my husband received an unbeatable birthday gift.  On July 14, 1985, my husband’s birthday, our daughter was born, and we became parents.  As time went on we had two boys to complete our family.  When our last child was born I felt like I … Continue reading

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Celebrating the “Unbounded Exercise of Reason and Freedom of Opinion”

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Having just celebrated the 4th of July and enjoying a beautiful weekend complete with fireworks, cookouts, and relaxation, (too much relaxation to write this post a few days earlier) I thought I’d take a moment to ponder what we celebrate every year. For one … Continue reading

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Stand Up and Pray a Desperate Prayer

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Have you ever felt powerless enough to pray a desperate prayer?  There are situations that are completely beyond my power or capacity to solve.  When I had cancer I had good medical care, but in the end I could only pray.  I prayed similarly when I … Continue reading

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Are You Rightly Understanding Jesus?

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My son-in-law is from Brazil, therefore English is his second language and he doesn’t always understand our idioms.  At a family birthday party recently a family member said to him, speaking of his one-year-old son who had not managed a … Continue reading

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Wine, Weddings and Encouragement for the Stressed

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My husband and I attended  a wedding over the weekend, and we met a woman who bought a winery and has taught herself how to grow flavorful grapes.  Impressive, considering my house plants die due to neglect.  No wine making for me. Listening … Continue reading

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Truth for Monday through Saturday

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How much of what we learn at church on Sunday morning makes it into our lives Monday through Saturday? I attend church, of course, sing songs of worship, diligently take notes on a usually excellent teaching, and visit with fellow attenders.  As it should … Continue reading

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Allocating Attention

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Attention matters.  Your focused concentration is highly sought after in today’s world.  How do you allocate your attention? Most of us give continuous partial attention to almost everything.  I cannot possibly give honest consideration to everything that comes across my screen.  There aren’t enough hours … Continue reading

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