Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Getting Right With God - A Do List

Someone recently asked me for help 'getting right with God'. We met several times and talked and prayed about what they wanted and came up with this document. I thought I'd share. What do you think? What would you add? Anything you'd take away?

# 1 – Express your desire simply and clearly to yourself and to others. Say a prayer to God announcing your attention to put some time into the relationship. Figure out what that will entail for you personally and let other people around you know to help hold you accountable.

#2 – Make a list. Write down on a piece of paper the areas of your life that are broken. Be honest. Be thorough. Don’t be a nitpicker, though. Look over the list and decide where to start.

#3 – Don’t be too ambitious. Start by incorporating parts of your plan into your long-established routine. It is far better to start small and stick with it, than to bite off more than you can chew and quit after a week. Write up your plan and post it somewhere prominent to remind yourself.

#4 – Pray daily. This is the core right here. I repeat: pray daily. Pray daily. Pray daily. Pray daily. The prayer doesn’t have to be long. It doesn’t have to involve words. What is important is spending time with God. Consider buying or borrowing a daily devotional guide or other resource to help you keep the commitment.

#5 – Ask Forgiveness. Now we get to the hard stuff. Find people who you have wronged. You know they exist. Find some way to make amends and ask for forgiveness. You may not receive it. It is still important that you ask. It is more important that you genuinely make an effort to show contrition. If this is impossible, for one reason or another, do something kind for a stranger instead. You’ll know if you’ve really done this step right.

#6 – Forgive. Yes, it gets harder. Find people who have wronged you. Without asking for anything from them offer them forgiveness. This will often require a lot of work and prayer within yourself beforehand for it to be genuine. False forgiveness or partial forgiveness is worthless, so do the work. If this is impossible, for one reason or another, forgive symbolically – write a letter and burn it.

#7 – Listen For the Next Steps. Continue doing all of the above, and ask God for guidance for what to do next. Expect it to be something difficult and surprisingly life-giving like feeding the hungry, or clothing the homeless.

4 comments:

Craig said...

Well said

Doug Hagler said...

I think that reformed types might want to add a step somewhere:

#8 - Accept with humility that you will never be "right with God"

and I might add

You are engaged in an ongoing, dynamic relationship, without beginning or end, with God. "Getting right" will be a continual process like it is with any other relationship. That is, your sanctification will be ongoing.

Aric Clark said...

As for "ongoing" I think #7 covers that, but in this case it was a request made by someone whose condition is terminal so it is colored by that.

As for never being "right with God" we talked a bit about grace/mercy/guilt/forgiveness, but honestly I feel like that's a different subject in many ways. That is, in this instance this person wanted practical advice for something they could do that would improve their relationship with God. I stuck to their language cause it is what they approached me with and I didn't see any reason to correct them or try to give them new language at this time.

They basically said "I wanna get right with God" and I said, "ok, how would you imagine doing that?" and we worked this up.

Craig said...

Doug,

Interesting that a graduate of a PCUSA seminary would refer to "reformed types" ;).

Seriously, I've no problem with your number 8, and your comments regarding a continuing process are also well said.

Aric,

I'm impressed that you addressed the person in this way, I hope it was helpful for them. I am curious as to what corrections and/or new language you would suggest.