Compare

One of the things I really struggle with as a Christian is comparing my faith to those around me. I wonder why I’m not as devoted as some, or passionate as others. I question why I don’t hear from God in the way that people at church seem to or get as much from reading the Bible as them. I get frustrated because my faith doesn’t seem as steadfast as the other people in housegroup.

These thoughts leave me feeling discouraged and distant from God. Sadly it often means ending up spending less time with God, less time in the bible and less time in fellowship with other Christians.

I suspect I’m not alone in this, but it’s a very difficult thing to admit to, particularly when we compare ourselves to others who seem to have it all together. We don’t want to appear like the weak link in the chain, the doubting Thomas or denying Peter.

At this point some of you might be thinking, ‘Well, you should be more disciplined in prayer, in bible reading, in church attendance. Maybe then you would experience a faith more like those other people.’ That is true to a point, but if my experience is always clouded by comparison to others, then those actions are just as likely to make the situation worse.

If you are with me in this, I think we need a change of mindset, a different starting point. American Pastor Rick Warren suggests that being honest with ourselves is the starting of point of changing this damaging cycle of self-damnation…

“Just acknowledging that you struggle with envy [of the faith of others] can be painful, but it is the first step toward a change of values and a more mature spiritual life.”

Our faith is meant to be personal, meant to be unique. The Psalmist wrote that God knows us from before we were born. Jesus tells us God knows every hair on our heads. The Apostle Paul says God has good plans for us.

That means your relationship with God will be different from the relationship He has with your mother or brother, the person sat next to you on Sunday morning, or that blogger who you read every week.

God loves you for who you are. He knows you and so will relate to you in ways that you can understand.

And it won’t always be the same. How you communicate with and relate to God will develop and change over time. And no, it will never be the same as that person you are always comparing yourself to. It can’t be. You are unique. Your relationship with God is unique.

Remembering that is a good start to a deeper and more satisfying faith.

2 thoughts on “Compare

  1. I have felt something like this my entire life as a christian (almost 55 years) but I think I see it in a slightly different way to you and Rick Warren. I agree with you both that we need to accept that everyone is unique, and I agree that envy isn’t helpful. I see it as a matter of personality and gifting.

    Some people are more spiritual or intuitive, some are more analytical or reasoning, and I guess a few are both. Intuitive people tend to experience God more directly, personally. Their reasons for believing are more personal and experiential. If their faith wavers, more disciplined prayer, meditation, worship are likely to help them build up their faith.

    But I find I am not like that. Years ago I attended a Pentecostal church that emphasised the Holy Spirit, spirituality, worship, prayer, spiritual gifts, etc. I never felt the same, even though I prayed for, and was prayed for, to receive the Holy Spirit in new ways. I just stayed the same old me (although I learned a lot). Eventually I came to the conclusion that God had a different way for me (in fact, one of the few times I feel God has spoken to me in my life was to tell me that), because i was a different type of person and had different gifts. And when analytical people’s faith wavers, telling them to pray harder, get closer to God, etc, will likely be ineffective (though still worth doing) – they will need answer to the questions that are causing the doubts.

    I have also found that the church, small groups, and even a marriage, can work best when the members are diverse on this intuitive-analytical spectrum. There’s no need for anyone to envy another, but all have their place. The pity is that churches tend to separate on intuitive0analytical lines – Calvinist vs Anabaptist, charismatic vs Reformed, etc, meaning they each miss out on what the other has to offer, and generally don’t even recognise they are missing out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi! Thanks for taking the time to leave such a considered comment! If I was to follow your line of thought, I guess I would say I was more of an intuitive person, so that’s probably a bias in the way I think about and relate to God.

      I definitely agree having a balance of diverse personality types is valuable- I’m currently studying a management qualification for work, and there seems to be countless studies that attest to that fact. I’m sure the same would extend from the workplace to the church. Paul’s analogy of the body and it’s many parts would seem to be a good pointer!

      Sadly I guess we can be quite tribal in church and tend to gravitate towards those who are similar to ourselves, whether that be in terms of personality, age or specific theology. In doing so, I would agree we definitely miss out.

      Liked by 1 person

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