Another ‘ian’ for you today from the talk I did on ‘What is a Christian?’.
Donald MacDonald from the Isle of Skye was admitted to Essex University, and was now living in his first year of residence there. His clan was very excited that one of their own had made it into the upper class of education, but were concerned how he’d do in “that strange land.” After the first month, his mother came to visit, with reinforcements of whiskey and oatmeal.
“And how do you find the English students, Donald?” she asked.
“Oh, Mother,” he replied, shaking his head sadly, “they’re such terrible, noisy people: The one on that side keeps banging his head against the wall, and won’t stop; and the one on the other side screams and screams and screams away into the night.”
“But Donald! How do you manage with those dreadful noisy English neighbours?”
“Well, mother, I just ignore ’em. I just stay here quietly, playing my bagpipes…”
Being a Christian is like being a musician. The ‘-ian’ suffix here shows what (or to whom) we relate. A musician is called a musician because their activities relate to music. We are called Christians because what we do relates to Jesus Christ. Being a Christian is not simply an affirmation of a set of beliefs. It is about a relationship with God.
There is an advert that used to be shown on German Television that a German friend sent me a while ago. You can see it by clicking on the link here. Clear communication is vital for us. And at the heart of any good relationship is clear communication. We know that friendships and relationships only work because we talk openly and honestly with each other and we listen to each other. I used to be a lawyer and in every divorce case I dealt with you can trace many of the problems in the relationship to a failure to communicate – to speak openly and honestly and to listen to each other.
So it is for us as Christians in a relationship with God. We need to communicate clearly with him. That is why praying and reading the Bible are so important – they are the primary means by which we speak with God and can listen to him. Praying and reading the Bible are not meant to be chores, something to be done because we have to, or something to be done quickly before we get on with the rest of our life. If we rush these things, if we give them the worst part of the day we can be sure that our relationship with God will suffer and we should not be surprised if it starts to feel that we are out of touch with God.
Praying is something we can do at any time. Do you chat with God? Do you offer prayers to him when you see someone in need? I am sure that he would like us to consider praying as natural as sending text messages to our friends or keeping in touch with them on social networking websites.
Christians are like musicians – it is about relating to God.