I want you to think of your life like a theatre. Not in the sense that your life is a performance though. A theatre has two main sections, the front of house and the backstage. The front of house is the public dimension of your life. It’s the part of your life that people see and largely judge you on. Its your work, what you talk about, your achievements and possessions etc. The Backstage of your life is that part of your life which other people (apart from God) don’t see. Its where the health of our souls and is shaped by how we care for ourselves spiritually. Its where our character is developed.
We face the constant pressure and temptation in contemporary culture to focus our attention and energy on the front of the house part of our life. This after all, as we have just said, is what people see and form their opinion of us on.
The problem is for us as disciples, is that drawing on the Old Testament, Jesus taught us that the Christian life has to be lived inside out
Just listen to what he has to say to us in Luke 6:45
A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.
Euegene Peterson in the Message maybe makes it even clearer for us by translating Jesus words like this
“You don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.
Jesus is telling us here that the
BACK STAGE of our life OUR HEART, the spiritual health of our life
OUR FRONT OF HOUSE, what comes out of our mouth, what we do in public, the person we are becoming
Our as the Message puts its
It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.
This week we have kicked off our SOUL SHAPING sermon series and our mid week SOUL KEEPING studies. We are focusing on these things as a church not to fill a few weeks in the church calendar but to give us all the opportunity to focus some much needed attention on the backstage area of our life which we all too often neglect.
We use the phrase “soul searching” too easily I suspect. It’s a phrase that comes from Christian spirituality and embodies the need for us to pay close attention to our “backstage” to our soul, to our spiritual health. As a church we are having a season of soul searching.
John Wesley said that all Methodist small group meetings should start with the question “How is it with your soul?” When you think about it that is a far deeper and more significant question than, “How are you?”
Through our Sunday sermons and midweek studies we are encouraging us all to ask ourselves that question “How is it with your soul?”
I know, from personal experience, that it’s a question we like to avoid because answering it forces us to really take stock on the health of our souls — which often leads to admitting and facing up to the fact that we may not be doing as well as we want others to think. When we search our souls we dont always like what we find.
We are all tempted to duck that backstage question and focus on our front of the house. It’s so easy to get lost in all the demands of life. We get caught up with work, work, and more work. We’re so consumed and busy with work that we may not realize we’re running on spiritual vapour. Sure, we take days off and holidays, but a lot us are still connected to our work. We work so hard and so much, we may be in danger of diminishing our humanity, further obscuring the image of God in us. We pay way more attention to our front of house than our backstage.
Church at the moment is a challenge. It’s a challenge when we meet together. It’s a challenge to do things in ways we are not used to and don’t particularly like. (singing in masks anyone?)
But I am going to ask you to make the next few weeks in Westlake challenging in another sense.
I want to challenge you to get connected to what we are doing through Soul Shaping and Soul Keeping and personally, and honestly as a result ask yourself that challenging question
HOW IS IT WITH MY SOUL?