I, Eve Ridgeway, student worker, have been a Christian for nearly six years now – I have become fluent in ‘Christianese’.
I grew up in high traditional churches, so am familiar with the candles, and the idol that can be choral music, and while familiarity is good, I don’t want it to become complacency. This has particularly hit me recently, as, praise God, a lot of people are coming to know Jesus at our church at the moment. For some it’s through the Alpha course, some through dreams and visions, and some at the end of a church service. Decision made; life changed.
I was walking down the aisle with one of these guys (on the way to communion – what were you thinking I meant…) so I could explain to him the meaning of the bread and the wine, at his request. I encourage you to do this for yourself next time you receive communion – it’s enlightening. Then, seeing it painted on the wall, this student said ‘And I really like that prayer – you know, the one that goes ‘Our Father in heaven…’.
He hadn’t heard of the Lord’s Prayer before.
And then I thought ‘The LORD’S PRAYER’. The one He himself gave to help us to pray. This student had just come across that and it changed the way he spoke to God. It was so new. For some, someone not knowing this prayer is an alien concept...so many people chanted it at school with me. But for him it was amazing, and rightly so - its words were given to us by Jesus. I was convicted at that moment to reexamine my heart – was I still amazed by Jesus?
We sometimes think of Christian maturity as everything to do with God and his works becoming more normal, and our general behaviour becoming a bit more holy, week by week, maybe year by year. But we are instructed over and over again in the New Testament as God’s children, and we read of people’s wonder at what Jesus did and said. Do we have childlike wonder? In Hebrews 6 we read of encouragement to move into maturity ‘not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God…’ (NIV) – i.e. ‘Don’t go over and over the fact that you’ve been saved – start acting like it and learn what God’s plans are for you’ – but we are never supposed to become bored. Or boring.
My instinct in realising all of this was to want to start hanging out more with these new Christians, to just let them talk at me, and maybe, in my pride, to try teaching them a bit too. But then I realized that I in no way wanted to dilute their childlike wonder. Who was I to wade in there and start being blasé about the Lord’s Prayer? I pray as a church we won’t let people lose their excitement. We sometimes want to because it’s pretty embarrassing to be excited about anything in our culture. Do we still let each other be amazed by Jesus?