Thursday, November 19, 2009

Perhaps you're hungry

A 6th century mosaic of :en:Jesus at Church Sa...Image via Wikipedia

I've studied Spanish as my second language for years - I study, study, study - don't, don't, don't - I step up my skill a bit and then I lapse into a four year old's understanding of the words on a page. You would think after all the years and hours and dollars that I've put into the study of Spanish that I would be speaking a second language fluidly, probably even translating for others; certainly, coming out with more than "Me llamo Dianna o Yo vivo en Estados Unidos!

The questions below might be appropriate to my study -
Why do I want to learn a second language? Do I have the time and the money for lessons? Will I attend classes regularly, practicing and studying my lessons on a daily basis? Will the lessons be a burden or a boon to my personal well-being? Is learning Spanish a real priority in my life; can I get along just as well without it? Do I think learning a second language will prove my intelligence, perhaps bring understanding and compassion into my life? Will it make me a better citizen of the world? Well, I've really answered these questions again and again and yet, still I don't make the time to become proficient in a second language. Basically, it's not essential to my survival as a human being, so I can place it on a back burner and go to it - perhaps when I'm hungry........

Discipleship as in Christian living, as in wanting more of God and Jesus in my life. Well, I see here for myself or I should say I began seeing for myself many years ago that I wanted to live a Christian life. Though, I really never thought that it would require much effort. I mean baptism, I'm in - right? I go to church every Sunday, well mostly. I know the Holy Bible's stories, well mostly. I think you probably get the theme here.

Learning a second language is an option for me and I suppose for some people, being an active Christian, Jew, or Muslim - whatever one's religious persuasion - might be an option also. But I don't want my Christianity or my efforts to be a disciple (a disciplined participant in the teachings of Jesus) to be an option. I want discipleship to be number one in my life. I want my education about Holy Scripture to be more informed than my sixth grade education (Sunday School variety) so I study alone and participate in bible study and in a spiritual formation group. I attend church regularly as well as pray and meditate. I could go on but the point is not what a great person I am - the point is that practicing my faith that which was given to me in the two great commandments from Jesus and in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, need to be heard, studied, practiced in homework, shared. The same questions of learning a second language can be applied to whether, why not, when, how, etc. will I make becoming a disciple, believing and living out my faith a priority in my life. I want my Christian education to be above that of a children's Sunday School lesson - (in fact I believe we underestimate the education that we give our children in early Christian training but that's another post).

I can take or leave learning a second language in my lifetime. I really can't take or leave discipleship as though it were an option. If I want it to be as important as I outwardly declare, I need to ask why I don't take more time to educate and practice the steps necessary to qualify as one of Christ's true followers. Is there something in my life that takes priority over relationship with my Creator, my God? How about you? Is your Holy Scripture understanding still back in the sixth grade and do your adult questions about life, love, death, grief, compassion, war, forgiveness, hope, hell, and heaven only get sixth grade answers? Maybe the practice of your faith is more essential to your survival as a human being; maybe you want to take your faith commitment off your back burner - perhaps you're hungry........

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  1. Wow! That's some post. I'll give you ten more minutes on that one.

  2. It is interesting the parallels you draw, SS.

    I, too, love learning other languages. I am not as good in them as I would love to be, but I still enjoy how speaking another language puts you into a different mindset, reprograms your brain.

    [A very profane anecdote always pops into my mind when I think of this. Many years ago, I was a tourist staying on the Lido in Venice and I took the ferry across to the Piazza San Marco every day. On that ferry I saw this woman, a matronly, Elizabeth Taylorish woman, always accompanied by a different man. When she was with a German man, she was a German woman. It was fascinating to watch her chameleon-like transformations. She had the physical and speech mannerisms of a certain type of typische Deutscherin.]

    When I speak another language well enough, it changes my worldview. And so it is with studying Scripture. There is always something more to learn, nuances to appreciate, a sense that it IS true, after all, and not merely a kind of pious morality story.

  3. CP - :)

    Barbara, Love your story about the woman on the ferry. That must have been a fascinating people study!

    Your words about language and studying scripture - so true, always something new in both venues.

    Thanks as always for your comments.

  4. Outstanding. So much food for thought here about what spiritual practice looks like and costs.
    Thank you!

  5. Anonymous9:21 PM

    When I finally get back to your blog after too long away, I am always touched somehow. This is no exception. More and more we find that being followers of Jesus Christ is a choice and total commitment - and not always an easy road, but a beautiful road, even in the hard places. I love your Spanish analogy because I also studied it in spurts! Thanks for your thoughts dear friend. And my condolences for the loss of your friend Charles. JG