I have this checklist in my mind. My checklist is filled with things that I must do each day. Now the things on my checklist are good things. There are things on my checklist like, read my Bible, pray, go to church, spend time doing ministry. So the things on my checklist are good, but the checklist as a whole is bad, yes bad. If I boil down my Christianity to a checklist, then soon my Christianity is a chore that I just have to get done. Here are some other reasons why I am struggling with my checklist mentality.
1. My checklist turns my Christianity into a duty. It is almost like I have a to due list and I must get these things done today or someone will be mad at me. While this list does provide me structure which is good, it takes away the spontaneity of a good relationship. For instance if on my checklist it says, “Tell my wife I love you three times today,” and I do that before 10:00am but at noon she does something really cool for me then can I go my allotted times given on the checklist.
2. My checklist makes my Christianity about “doing” instead of “being.” We are so good about stressing the relational aspects of coming to know Christ, when explaining salvation to non-Christians, but once someone becomes a Christian the relational language goes out the window, and we replace it with “duty” or “work” language. Now we try and dress it up by saying, you should enjoy reading your Bible, you should want to come to church, but in the end work is work, no matter how you try and beautify it.
I am in several committed relationships. I am a husband to Peggy, I am a father to Jenna, and I am the son of Don and Jan. I am committed to all of these relationships. These relationships make me who I am(being). They are not duties or chores but they are joys.
Now I am also in a committed relationship with Jesus Christ who is also committed to me. But in that relationship it has become less about, who I am(being), and more about what I do(doing). And by doing this I think I am missing out on the best parts of this whole thing we call Christianity.
You see in my marriage to Peggy, the fact that I am(being) her husband defines what I do(doing). But for many of us our Christianity is defined by what we do instead of who we are. I am a child of God period. But in my checklist spirituality, my relationship is defined by what I do, so the days that I don’t spend adequate time with God, that means those days I am not His child right? In a sense that is the case if my spirituality is a checklist. But if it is a relationship, then the relationship is still there whether the time is or not. I mean there are days when Peggy and I don’t get to spend a lot of time together, does that mean we are not married those days, no because it is a relationship not a checklist.
So where does this take me? How do I get the checklist out of mind? Most importantly I must stop teaching checklist spirituality to students. What I am afraid of is that most student ministries are teaching this though.