Cooper Devotions

Finding our Authentic selves as Christians

          I remember being introduced to the game, “Sims” in middle school. Sims allowed you to create

 

your own character and house. You could decorate the house and then live life. I don’t remember what

 

jobs I had or what that life looked like. I do remember at the time, turning to play Sims because it was

 

fun, and that computer Anthony seemed to be doing much better than real world Anthony. Real world

 

Anthony had stresses at home and at school. He had little freedom aside from what my parents gave real

 

world Anthony. Sims Anthony was doing well for himself, had a good job, nice house, plenty of freedom

 

and friends. I would find going to play the Sims not just because it was entertaining but because it was an

 

escape. Our society promotes people finding escapes to the point where we have the word escapism.

 

Escapism is the tendency to escape from daily reality or routine by indulging in daydreaming, fantasy, or

 

entertainment (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

 

          Americans are a people who like to escape the hectic, anxious, stressful realities we find ourselves

 

in. Some of my favorite escapes as an adult include sports and games on my phone. Social media

 

websites may be the current most popular escape for people. But I have a problem. My main escape,

 

Sports, is no longer available because of Covid-19. This pandemic has disrupted life in many ways and

 

for a lot of us it is denying us our forms of entertainment, our escapes.

 

          Forms of entertainment, if not a complete escape, serve as a distraction from the rest of our lives.

 

What reasons do we give for turning to entertainment? Are all of them positive? It is good to unwind, to

 

relax and let the stress dissipate, but I also question if our turning to entertainment is also to avoid some

 

of the realities in life that we need to face. Have we been turning to entertainment options at the expense

 

of building up relationships through conversation and participation? Have we turned to entertainment to

 

avoid or not deal with topics that need to be dealt with?

 

          I ask these questions because I worry that myself and maybe some others have not been living up

 

to our full potential as we escape the realities of life through entertainment instead of dealing with

 

stressful issues or growing as a person. As states close down the ‘non-essential’ parts of our life and

 

society, we find ourselves with more time. How are we spending that time? Are we looking for other

 

forms of entertainment through television, Netflix, and games? Or are we adding positive habits and

 

working through some things we have set aside. I know some have gotten a jump start on their spring

 

cleaning, others have spoken family members more now than before the pandemic.

 

          Governments have had to make hard choices about what is essential for them to keep going and

 

what they can close. Let us take the time to name for ourselves what is essential in our own lives and

 

what we need to close down. John Wesley (as we call Methodists) believe that God’s love has spread by the

 

Holy Spirit across the hearts of Christians so much so that God’s love then pours out of us. We are able to

 

love because God first loved us and we are able to follow God because God’s grace continues to beckon us

 

to come home to the Creator who made us in God’s own image.

 

          We are called to live authentic lives rooted in faith. From Psychology Today, “Being authentic

 

means coming from a real place within. It is when our actions and words are congruent with our beliefs

 

and values. It is being ourselves, not an imitation of what we think we should be or have been told we

 

should be. There is no “should” in authentic.” For us as Christians, have our actions and words been

 

authentic? Are they congruent with out Christian beliefs and values or have we found distractions or

 

escapes that have taken away from being out most authentic selves?

 

          Being authentic means being our true selves as children of God saved by God’s grace through Jesus

 

Christ. So in order to be our most authentic selves we must take the time to know ourselves on the

 

deepest levels and know how God has participated in our creation and restoration into God’s image. We

 

must take the time to know God and know ourselves. In taking the time to reflect on our thoughts and

 

actions, we can name those things we truly believe and how our beliefs are shown. We can also name the

 

actions we may need to take in order for our beliefs to match our actions.

 

          If we really believe that God has called us to care for the poor, the widow, the orphan, then what

 

actions are we taking that show we truly believe this? If we really believe that we should have a

 

relationship with God, then what actions are we taking to improve that relationship?

 

          Holy Week is upon us. Let us take this time to name for ourselves what it is we believe. Let us name

 

for ourselves those things that have been distracting us from living out our beliefs and our values. Let us

 

name for ourselves actions and patterns that can help us grow stronger in our beliefs and values as

 

Christians so that we are authentically living as Children of the Living God.


 

Prayer: God of grace and mercy. God who’s grace called me even when I did not know you, even when I

 

denied you. God who created me, formed me, and continues to nurture me. Help me to turn my faith

 

into action. Help me to let your love so reign in my heart that it shines forth in everything that I do.

 

Lord, help me to identify the things that have been distracting me from living my most authentic life,

 

from living the way you have called me to live. Let me replace those distractions with acts of faith.

 

          God of love we ask that your love be known to all, especially those who are mourning the loss of a

 

loved one. The news has been difficult and the reality even more difficult to process, that the whole world

 

is battle a virus that is causing suffering in death. In these times let us shine as beacons of your love,

 

peace, and comfort as we mourn with those who are mourning, connected even in isolation so that we

 

can love on and support one another as you continue to love and support us.

          We pray all these things knowing that you have named us Children of God and Persons worthy of

 

the sacrifice. Let us join in hearts and minds with your people as we pray the prayer Jesus taught us:

          Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on 

 

earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those

 

that trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is kingdom, the

 

power, and the glory forever. Amen.


 

Holy Week Readings:

Monday: John 12:1-19

Tuesday: John 12:20-36

 

Wednesday: John 12:37-50

 

Thursday: John 13:1-38

 

Friday: John 18:1–19:42


 

Worship Through Music

In Christ Alone by Kristian Stanfill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGKJ2JHT9dw

Jesus Paid It All by Kristian Stanfill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_jAbHkGJRE

Lord I Need You by Matt Maher: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuvfMDhTyMA

 

Be Though My Vision: Audrey Assad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Optrm7lF16s

 

Oh The Deep Deep Love of Jesus: Audrey Assad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vUhwyjdk8A

© 2020 Cooper Memorial UMC

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