Thursday, February 6, 2014

On Being a Hermit

With all this snow we've been having, I've had to spend a lot of time cooped up in my home, as have many of you. What I discovered during this time of solitude is that I wouldn't do well as a recluse or a hermit. I need to be around people, even if it's just to go to Dunkin Donuts to get coffee--to give them my order and say thank you. As much as I love to read, it gets boring after awhile. I need people.

In one of his recent sermons, my pastor made an interesting point. He was describing how people say that they're working on themselves, getting more spiritual, getting more grounded in their faith, getting closer to the Lord, working on getting more compassionate,etc.  His question was, "For what? For who? For yourself? Or for your neighbor?"

What good is all that compassion, all that work becoming like Christ if you live in seclusion? Jesus was not about naval-gazing. If we want to be Christ-like, we need to follow His example. We need to go out into the world and interact with the unlovely and unlovable, the ungodly and the undesirable. We need to take all that compassion that we've learned about in our time of seclusion and put it into practice. Sit with sinners. Eat with tax collectors (aka people we don't like or who are not like us). Smile and say thank you when you're served mushroom soup and you hate mushrooms. (Sorry, I hate mushrooms, so I felt the need to include that, for my own benefit). 

The entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Gal 5:14).

Building ourselves up is good. Spending time alone with the Lord is good. Delving into and studying the word is good. But, like Pastor James said, "For who?" If we are doing all this to edify and encourage ourselves, we need to get out more. Yes, it's important to do all those things, especially if we have issues we need to overcome; sometimes the Lord sets us apart for a time to work on and heal us, bringing us through a recovery process. But when that time is up, it's important to go to our neighbor and share what the Lord has done for us! 

We don't have to evangelize the town. Trust me, I'm not an evangelist. I'm an encourager though. And when you're an encourager with a mouth that doesn't know when to close, who needs to be around people...well, I just need a little refining and I'm good to go. It's not rocket science. An encouraging word to the person who makes your coffee every day might go a long way. Looking someone in the eye after you ask, "How are you?" and waiting for their response. An affirming, appreciative word to your co-worker or employee. A thank you to your boss. An extra hug to a family member. Slowing down to that senior citizen's pace in front of you and realizing that they can't move any faster., and someday you will be just like him or her.  And a moment to linger at the mailbox when you're talking to your neighbor. You might not really care, but take a moment to act like you do, and you just might find yourself caring! Slow down your life and look around.

Don't be a hermit. Don't naval-gaze. Let's get out of ourselves and notice all of those hurting people around us who need an encouraging word or simply a smile today. Put what you've learned into practice. Don't keep it all to yourself! Spread Jesus today!

Blessing Along the Path,

Song/Video of the Day--as you know, monks chant; hermits don't speak...I'd never make it...gotta see this adorable and humorous video--it's just a fun thing for today!
Monks Chanting the Hallelujah Chorus

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