A snowy weekend, spent in serving others: yesterday, a meal for a friend whose husband is in the hospital; time spent listening and loving on that friend. Today, taking a friend’s kids for the day, playing in the snow with them, then gathering ’round the table for a home cooked meal.
But our service this morning at church stopped me in my do-gooder tracks. My quite progressive protestant church prayed an ancient prayer of St. Patrick:
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
We sang “Christ, be the Center,” and my heart ached. And that same Christ whispered, are you serving me? Or pleasing people? They look quite similar. Only he can see past the exterior, and in perfect love, he invited me to join him in examining my motives.
I find them mixed. I act not just to please people, but out of genuine love. My love language of cooking took form as a scratch chocolate cake for an 8 year old’s birthday, homemade beef stew for a friend, homemade pot roast for family and friends. My children, who had been away all weekend, were home tonight, eating pot roast and thanking me out loud for expressing my love to them in this way. I was not looking for approval so much as expressing affection. But am I doing it for people, or for Christ? I want Christ to be the center.
In this moment of questioning my own motives, Jesus comes steady and puts his arm around me. What you do for the least of these, you do for me, he reassures. This weekend I experienced “Christ in the hearts of all who love me,” and was able to be Christ to them–with an hour sledding with children or with pot roast and chocolate cake.
Christ, be the center. My prayer today, and in the days to come.
I caught the same service yesterday and had been thinking about it all day. This part especially struck me, and when I saw your post in my reader just now, I just had to write here. Putting Christ at the center is something I’ve been struggling with as I’ve been so focused on pleasing others and creating time for myself. Although I do create time to just be with Him, this message was a bold reminder of what I really need to do. This week, I will be putting him at my center and seeing how my life transforms. Thank you for another reminder.
Laura, thanks for stopping by! I think this ancient prayer reminds us that we can bring Christ into every moment. You’re so right–time with him is important, but giving him all of our time, bringing him “with us” as we go through our daily round, is the goal. To practice his presence –and let that presence transform our actions and our motives. We can’t do it ourselves, we need his help. Keeping him at the center empowers us!
thanks for joining the conversation, praying that you will have a Christ-centered week. Stop back in a few days and let us know how it’s going.
Keri, thank you for drawing us along with you in wrestling with what it means to serve others and Jesus at the same time. I think sometimes the approval of God is expressed in the thanks and affirmation we receive from those we have served.
Then again, I think every moment we have is approved by our heavenly Father now that Christ lives in us and we are inhabited by the Holy Spirit and declared righteous for eternity. It seems to me that the Bible teaches that in the same way the Father is always pleased with the Son he is also pleased with us as co-heirs and children of God because of the work Jesus has done for us on the cross and through his resurrection. (Sorry if that got off topic a bit!)
P.S. Jane Hinrichs just put up a guest piece I did for her blog. I hope you get a chance to take a look:http://janehinrichs.weebly.com/1/post/2012/01/top-to-bottom-bottom-to-top.html.
P.P.S I also hope you are having a great week, which I imagine you will after that wonderful reminder you got in yesterday’s service!
When we place Christ truly at the center of our life – everything else will fall into place!
I’m finding your website for the first time, or correction ~ the Lord lead me here.
I love God, I love people and love to hear an atta girl now and then… you can imagine this topic, hit right between the eyes and stepped on my toes at the same time… OUCH ; )
I’ve recently began a blog ministry for those of us struggling to be ‘barbie perfect’, Christians, Wives, Moms, Daughters, Leaders, while reminding us to take a Barnabas approach help, loving and encouraging others.
As pure as my motivation is to keep Christ the center of this new ministry. Satan seems to gather great joy in placing ‘doubt’ in even our best of intentions to care for and minster to others… Thanks for the reminder to take Him with us as our center. It wonderful to connect with other Christians… (after all we are going to spend an eternity together) (smile )
Oh and please don’t let my friends know cakes come from scratch, mine come from the bakery ; )