Lifestream Home Lifestream Blog The God Journey (podcast) Finding Church Contact Wayne's Books

Do You Find Yourself Moving from Obligation to Endearment?


#1

I’m sorry this has gotten a bit bogged down here. Unfortunately I had to have another surgery (not my heart this time though), so it has backlogged me with tons of correspondence and other necessities. So, let’s get on with chapter 13.

As an active participant in a local congregation do you have a feel for how much of your activity was based on doing because you were told you had to, and doing because Jesus invited you into something he was doing? I know that’s tough to gauge, but one of my greatest joys of finding his church in the world is doing very little out of obligation and responsibility, and finding myself endeared to the people and the projects he invites me to engage. For me it has been a major shift. Almost everything I did before was to meet the obligations of the program or rituals and very little of it was endearing.

Now I find myself almost always involved in things that endear my heart. That doesn’t mean they are easy or fun, but that the motivation comes from knowing this is something Jesus has for me and I find that wildly more fruitful.

Others?


#2

Almost everything I did in life before I found out about this kind of stuff was all out of religious obligation and self-effort… When I learned about God’s love and how to live by faith instead of religious obligation, my life was drastically altered…

I began to love others more and changed from hating hugs to being one of the people known for hugging people. A year or 2 later I left the IC.

It has been difficult to find other things that are endearing to my heart, but I have slowly begun to find a few small things. I guess sometimes it isn’t a quick process, and for a lot of us it can be a long slow learning process…

It’s quite a learning process to go from feeling obligated to do all the stuff your church group teaches, and then switch to mostly only following what the Holy Spirit nudges you to do.

Lenny
Bailey, NC


#3

My beef with the IC has always been for their seemingly endless pleas for money. I know why they have to do it but it brings out tremendous feelings of guilt for me. It seemed in every church I attended for a length of time, you became a figure on a balance sheet, not a servant of the Lord. If the church wasn’t a significant part of your monthly budget, things weren’t going to go well for you there. Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-giving, but I am anti-forced giving. I believe if it truly comes out of the heart, giving can be a fruitful exercise. And like was expressed in this chapter, it is fellowship with others, not simply taking up space in a pew, that can make giving so.


#4

For me, as a mother of 3, it has always been the push by the IC to work in children ministries (of which there were a lot.) When it came time for the new school season to begin there was always a guilt ridden push from the pulpit to be serving in these areas. I remember after such a sermon going up to the woman in charge of finding volunteers and telling her with a sigh, “Ok, I have been sufficiently guilted in to working…what do you need?” She laughed because she totally had felt the same guilt. Not only that, but there was the resentment based gossip among those that were serving in these areas about those that weren’t. Some parents just simply dropped their kids off but never raised a finger to help with the ‘children’s ministry.’ Those that served felt more spiritual than those that didn’t even though most of them didn’t actually want to be doing it themselves. The programs most of the time either became baby sitting time with silly crafts etc., or for the super self righteous teachers, it became a time of guilting and shaming children into memorizing more verses to get the star sticker and be the best in the class. That kind of competition then unconsciously made the children against one another because each one wanted to be the top. Oh the dread I felt when Wed. evening came and I had to teach or Sunday School time came and I had to teach…or VBS came and I had to teach. And I suspect that I felt that dread simply because what I was teaching them through the church curriculums went against what the Holy Spirit had for us. It seemed an natural somehow and I didn’t understand why.
Seems strange to think back now and remember how I felt. Now, I have a real heart for children. I can understand and see them much more clearly and actually care about them. My heart breaks for the pressure being put on them etc…as I remember being a child and having that same pressure to perform being put upon me. The anxiety it caused! To think that I had to somehow achieve something for God! And that if I didn’t do well enough, I was going to be punished or he would pour his ‘wrath’ on me. Ugh. So my heart is endeared to others now and I want them to know freedom in Christ…and that actually energizes me.


#5

I was a Sunday School Teacher…

I remember enjoying my space with the kids regardless of the boundaries that were set for us. I think I have more memories of enjoying my space than seeing the confines of the space I was in. I have said before… It wasn’t so much that I had to leave, it is just that I left and I can’t go back. I only have seen the confines once I left the buildings and programs.

I was also a Youth Worker. I remember enjoying time with the youth so much that the organizational heads figured I needed to come on as full time staff. I enjoyed 5 years as a volunteer, but didn’t make it past a year as a staff. As soon as I was getting paid to do the same job I enjoyed as a volunteer… the joy was gone. Now I was obligated… I look back and in my memory… my joy remains for those years I chose to be there… not the year I was paid.

Ruby from Calmar, Alberta


#6

P.S.

I’m slightly sad to say, that several years ago I was the guy that thought I needed to be at the IC every time the doors were open, and I pressured others to do the same… I taught this kind of religious obligation when ever I had opportunity to teach or preach. Thankfully, a day came when people taught me about God’s love, and about laying aside religious obligation and self-effort… Wow! What a big change it has been. :slight_smile:

Lenny
Bailey, NC


#7

RonL:

Once you experience the joy of giving from the heart and from your compassion… instead of your budget… going back to the balance sheet approach is… well… something worth quitting.

Here is the irony. When you give out of obligation, there are smiles on the faces of the church staff… when you give out of joyous spontaneity… the most common response is… “You didn’t have to do that!”.

You are right… I didn’t have to…and there in lies my freedom!!!

Ruby from Calmar Alberta Canada.


#8

Yes is the short resounding answer. Yes. There is no obligation now. When I meet with whomever and we talk Christ, we fly deep, and in the cool clear waters its all about endearment. Deep calling to deep.
The question that I have begun hearing is “what now”.
We have detoxed, we have flourished as individuals in this ocean of His love, and there is a
but NOW… Now he is going to join the dots, the pinpricks of iridescence, his bride, the city on a hill that cannot be hidden.
This glorious beautiful bride,