My friend Jerry loves to work out. He knows all the best exercise routines and has made staying in shape into an admirable hobby. He also loves his Catholic faith, and somewhere along his spiritual journey, he noticed that he was spending a lot more time exercising than he was with God. His faith life suffered as a result.
Noticing this, he once said, “If I would only put as much time and effort into my faith as I put into getting in shape, maybe I’d start seeing real results in my spiritual life.”
The problem he was experiencing was one that I have as well, and I’m sure we’re not the only ones. We’re not spending enough time with God because we’re just not that interested in him. We spend countless hours delving into our hobbies and have no problem with the complexity inherent in them, yet when someone starts talking about God with any kind of complexity, we often shut down and demand simplicity – because, let’s be honest, theology simply isn’t that intriguing of a subject to us.
We say, “Speak more down-to-earth” or, “You’re talking over everyone’s head.” For some reason, God is subject to a dumbing down process we wouldn’t require of anything else in which we had a sincere interest.
Subsequently, if I do wish to speak about God in everyday conversation, the most sociable option is to speak of how God has touched my heart. This makes our conversation about God one-dimensional. While it is important to connect with God on a personal level and share that relationship with others, a merely heart-based relationship – with anyone, but especially God – has the tendency to become subject to our own whims when not guided by reason.
We have all been in relationships where we let our hearts take over and ignored reason – times when we shared no interests with a person, when circumstances made things difficult or when we’d ignore reasonable advice of our peers and mentors; yet we’d still go on “loving” him or her or being his or her “friend.”
Just like in these relationships, our relationship with God runs the risk of becoming unstable if it’s guided only by our hearts. Just as we ought to ask ourselves, “What do I actually like about her?” or “What common interests do I share with him?” we ought to ask ourselves, “What interests do I share with God?”
It’s not enough to believe in him with all my heart. I must know why I believe. I must, as Christ says, “Love the Lord [my] God with all [my] heart, and with all [my] soul, and with all [my] strength, and with all [my] mind.” (Luke 10:27)
Many people would say the problem with the Christian faith today is that people aren’t inviting Christ into their hearts enough. That may be the case, but – to be more succinct – I believe the problem is we don’t have a true friendship with Christ. A true friendship requires not just a sharing of hearts, but a sharing of interests as well.
With one good friend, I could spend hours talking about our favorite Catholic writers. With another, evenings would fly by as we played computer strategy games. We would lose ourselves in our shared interests and hobbies, and in forgetting about ourselves, we strengthened our bond with one another.
What would happen if we took this same approach to our relationship with God? What if we got lost in wonder over the things he shows us? What if the hours flew by as we delved into his Word, or spent time praying and reading spiritual works in Eucharistic Adoration? Maybe then, Mass wouldn’t be an obligation but quality time spent with a friend.
God wants to share his interests with us: holiness, the virtues, his plan for humanity, the order of the universe, for starters. Sure, opening up the door and letting him into our hearts is important, but let’s dine with him and have a wholesome conversation with him as well. He may just blow our minds and make us leave everything else behind to follow him.
David Kilby is a freelance writer for The Monitor. He attends St. Isaac Jogues Parish, Marlton, and writes for www.ramblingspirit.com.[[In-content Ad]]