Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I Don't Follow God By Myself

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Psalm 61 seems pretty typical, you know, the whole oh-God-come-save-me thing. I wondered what in the world I'd say about it in this week's Psalms Journey post.

But then I noticed a little phrase at the end of verse 5: "you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name."

Wow, that's something I don't think about much. Being in a group with tons of others who follow God, and we all receive the inheritance he has for us. Cool!

American culture is very individualistic, and that's reflected in our understanding of Christianity. Gotta have a personal relationship with God. Stand up for Jesus, regardless of what other people think. Worship is just about you and God. Performing for an audience of one. If you died tonight, would you go to heaven or hell? Love God first, others second, and yourself third. Uncomfortable with the label "Christian" so you call yourself a "Christ-follower" to get a little distance between yourself and the church's sins. Jesus died for YOU. I wonder if he thought of me as he hung on the cross. God has a plan for your life!

So individualistic. And that's not necessarily bad- there's truth in there, about God's love and care for individual people- he doesn't forget anyone, lost in the crowd. But this is only one perspective on Christianity. Jesus is alive and living in every culture, and the gospel manifests itself differently in different cultures. WOW AWESOME!

In my experience, American evangelical Christianity very much emphasizes each individual's connection with God. And it's great, this is my culture, this is where I found God. But it would be very wrong to think that's the only right way to understand God and Christianity.

So anyway. Let me take some time to remember other Christians who have come before me and shaped my own faith. (Disclaimer: Yeah... I know this isn't what Psalm 61 is really about. I'm just taking one phrase out of context and running with it. Which is NOT how you do legit bible study. Don't try this at home, kids.)

I'm thankful for my parents, who read bible stories to me when I was little, who brought me to church, who bought me tons of Christian books because I LOVED to read. They've always been active at church and strong in their faith, and we've had tons of discussions about religion all throughout my life. I especially appreciate how devoted my mom is to studying the bible and leading bible studies, and how she prays for her kids every morning.

And the church where I grew up, the pastors, the Sunday School teachers. And the church I went to in college. So thankful for church.

And I remember all my Christian friends I met in college, friends who encouraged and challenged me and were there for me when I needed it. I am so glad that I could be a part of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship- I remember how pleasantly surprised I was to find the people there were so friendly and welcoming and really cared about me. And during the years I was there, we supported each other and prayed together and did our best to follow God and love people.

And I remember the hospitality I experienced when I visited China. From missionaries there and from Chinese Christians. They were all totally awesome and accepting, even though I had no idea how to do anything in China.

And people who translate the bible into English- wow, what would I do without them? Seriously though, what would I do without them? I wouldn't be able to read the bible at all. Of everyone on this list, the bible translators are probably the most important.

And of course I am so happy to be blogging and meeting so many awesome people in blogland. People write about their experiences and ideas, and I've learned so much and my ideas have been changed by it all.

I need other Christians. I don't follow God by myself. And of course, none of these people are perfect. If you read my blog, you know I have some criticism for some of the things I was taught. But it's okay- people don't have to be perfect or have all of their beliefs exactly right in order to make a positive impact. (I mean, seriously, I'm sure I'm wrong about a lot of things. When you read my blog, don't just accept everything- please ditch it if it's wrong.)

So thank you, thank you to all the Christians who have come before. Thank you to all my Christian friends. Thank you.


This post is part of a link-up on the topic of Psalm 61. To read other people's posts, click here: Under God's Wings.


  1. I would argue this is legit Bible study! According the genre at least. The Psalms are there to help us pray. And if a Psalm helped you find gratitude for your Christian community, that's perfect! We need to study context and history, yes, but we also need to let the Holy Spirit work. Thanks for offering this interesting take!