Some religious leaders teach that Christians are born (or reborn) through their beliefs, not through their actions “lest any man should boast.” Yet, believing this way is like buying a violin and immediately declaring yourself a violinist. If you have ever listened to a beginner musician practice, you know this is not the case. Like learning to play the violin, living a conscious Christian life not only takes practice, it also is a practice.
The North Star of a conscious Christian practice is concentrating on what Jesus said was most important: love over dogmatic legalism, connection over judgment, and service for those in need over selfishness.
Here are three practices which can help Christians move toward this North Star:
- Being spiritual and religious. It’s not very conscious to be religious without being spiritual. It’s also often not sufficient or satisfying to be a spiritual loner and not make a meaningful external impact. Both spiritual growth and religious scalability are needed to transform people’s lives in a significant and sustainable way. This practice can benefit from meditation, silent prayer, and community service.
- Being intellectually honest. A conscious Christian practice requires an open mind and heart, and a life grounded in direct experience. When something can’t be proven, as is often the case with dogmatic legalism, we can learn from it without requiring it to be factual, and not waste time arguing about it or trying to impose it on others. There are more than enough important things in this world that can be proven and that can benefit from our personal and congregational attention.
- Being socially compassionate. Jesus led the Christian transition from law to love. He fought the legalistic religious leaders of his day and focused on helping those in need—healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and helping the mentally ill. This is a very good time for Christians to help people in need.
Christianity exists in the present moment. It is not about dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. It requires connecting to life as it exists right now. It is not about needing to be certain but about embracing life’s mysteries with spiritual enthusiasm. We don’t need to think we have all the right answers. We simply need to be able to ask increasingly better questions.
With practice, Christians can move the foundation of their faith from a set of unprovable beliefs (a product of the dualistic mind) and create action-oriented lives of love and service (a product of the heart). Less like the religious elite in the New Testament and more like Jesus, Christians can serve their way—not try to theologize their way—to abundant Christian living, trying to prove each day that faith without works is dead. Like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, as conscious Christians, we can help ourselves, our churches, and our communities by practicing and doing what Jesus said was most important: loving, connecting, and serving.