Sometimes, I get tunnel vision.
When I was in college, I was focused on learning, on getting good grades, on doing the best I could. I rarely missed a lecture, got my papers done on time, and spent hours copying over my in-class notes to really commit them to memory.
I still have my planner from college- yes, okay, I keep my old planners... is that weird? Probably a little. Anyway, my college planner is full. It's full of notes about deadlines and assignments, special lab times and study sessions, days marked in red when I took exams or had a big project due.
But the one thing conspicuously missing from my old calendars is people. That planner doesn't contain any girls nights, outings into the heart of the city, volunteer activities. It doesn't say "Coffee with Meri!" "Call Shelley" or "Visit from KK!" with a purple smiley face.
And, you know? College was a great time for me, but I feel a little like it could have been so much more.
I get tunnel vision.
Sometimes, my faith looks like that, too.
Sometimes my faith is really more about me than it is about others.
I love Bible studies, and there's one on Tuesday nights right now that I'm so interested in... but oh, if I could just do it by myself, that would be so much better.
I really enjoy hearing sermons from different pastors, but I prefer to just listen to podcasts... going to see that guest speaker, sitting with a bunch of people I don't know... seems like a lot of work.
I'll admit it- I'd much rather pray in the quiet comfort of my own home than with someone who's hurting. I'd much rather find my faith community online than with real people in real life.
I've narrowed my faith life down to learning to love God- learning about Him, learning about His Word- and not much else.
I'm far from perfect in the "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind" thing, but I sure am focused on it.
And I don't usually stop to think about what my tunnel vision is costing me.
See, there wasn't just one commandment that Jesus said was the greatest.
And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." - Matthew 22:35-38
Loving God isn't always easy, and I definitely don't have it down. But I'd say that I spend much more time nurturing my internal, personal faith than I do expressing God's love towards others- especially face to face.
To be completely honest, I think that this particular brand of tunnel vision is pretty typical of many North American Christians. There are exceptions, to be sure, but I'd say that internally-focused faith is common for many of us.
It's less risky. It's more convenient. There's less of a chance of being hurt, being rejected, or being uncomfortable when we stay home or can drop in and out of the conversations on our screens.
But we're not just called to love our God- we're called to be His hands and feet in the world. We're commanded to love our neighbors- those real, human, flesh-and-blood people in front of us. We have the chance to work amazing miracles.
We're commanded to be a blessing because oh, how we've been blessed.
That's why I'm challenging myself- and you, too- to do just that. To be a blessing. To make a difference. To stand beside those real life people, and (for this month) be an encouragement to them.
I don't want to have tunnel vision that prevents me from seeing the need around me. I don't want to be so focused on my own walk that I forget to look up and see the waiting harvest.
I want to love my neighbors in this world. I want to be the blessing.
It's not too late to join the challenge-- click here to see some details and resources. And, as a little "thank you" and encouragement for you to join in, if you leave a comment on the challenge page, you'll be entered for a giveaway.
This post is linked up at Grace and Truth