I have heard it said that the Christian life is not as much about doing as it is about being. It’s not what you do as much as it is who you are.
I heard this a lot at seminary. As a type A perfectionist, I needed to hear it. I needed to be reminded that it wasn’t so much that I got everything right as much as it was that I was becoming the kind of person I was called to be. To some, this might seem like splitting hairs, but this message of being was incredibly important for me.
The idea that being trumped doing liberated me from the idea that I had to be perfect in order to be loved. Even though I knew in my head that being loved by God wasn’t something I could earn, I didn’t believe it in my heart. The re-writing of this works-based theology during my seminary years helped me to realize that God loves me, and that God doesn’t desire my perfection as much as God desires my willing heart.
Of course, I don’t do any of this perfectly. I don’t always live a life that exemplifies the idea that who I am is more important than what I do. But, I find myself dwelling in who I am becoming just a little bit better every day. Every day is a step closer in faithfulness, and though the progress is small, I can see it when I look back at how I used to live. Especially if I compare my life today with my high school days.
Even though I so appreciate the idea that being is more important than doing, I have come to realize that even this is incomplete. If we are being who we were made to be, the things we do will better reflect who we are. But none of this matters if we aren’t moving in the right direction.
Being and doing don’t matter if we aren’t going.
All three of these things work together as we are seeking to become more like Christ. If we aren’t being, we won’t do. And we won’t do either of those things if we never go.
The problem with overemphasizing who we are is that we begin to set down deep roots where we are. And the deeper those roots go, the hard it is for us to hear the areas in our lives where God is calling us to uproot. If we have planted ourselves firmly with roots that extend even beyond the deepest frost (somewhat like my hearty asparagus plant), we will have more excuses, more reasons, more fear when God calls us to go.
And God will call us to go.
Our entire Christian lives begins with the commandment to go.
Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19, NRSV).
Not stay where you are until you’ve figured yourself out. Not sit somewhere and reflect on who you are. But, go.
Go and do because of who you are called to be.
I have been reading Richard Rohr’s book “Falling Upward.” In the book, Rohr talks about the importance of going. He writes, “Instead of our ‘Don’t leave home without it’ mentality, the spiritual greats’ motto seems to be ‘Leave home to find it!'” And how important that is. If we never go out, if we never leave our comfort zones, if we never leave our insulated lives where everyone reinforces to us the ideas we’re already convinced of, we will never become who were are called to be, or do what we are called to do.
Today I’m asking myself where I’m going. Not because I physically need to leave home and go somewhere, but because I need to be on a journey. The Christian life isn’t about setting up a home base where I always feel safe and secure as much as it is about moving in step with our God who is on the move.