BELLS, guilt, and lists

The Christian author Michael Frost has put together an acronymn for the spiritual disciplines at his church (which has a pretty cool name: “Small Boat, Big Sea”). The acronymn is “BELLS”. BELLS stands for: BELLS, guilt, and lists

BLESS – Do something good for three people every week. In Frost’s church, he specifically says do something good for one member of your church, and something good for one person outside of your church, and a third something good for someone in either of those categories.

EAT – Eat with three people every week, one of whom is not a member in your church. Now Frost doesn’t get across if you can double dip on the “BLESS” one here – I suppose it depends if you pick up the check or do the cooking. Nonetheless, there’s something about eating with someone.

LISTEN – Frost encourages people in his church to spend time doing nothing but listening for God. This doesn’t mean downloading information. It doesn’t mean listening to a sermon necessarily. It means carving out some time to listen to God instead of talking at Him.

LEARN – This is the information download. Frost specifically encourages people to download the information from the Gospels, to learn about who Jesus is – but not sacrificing the other great stuff in the Bible either.

(be) SENT – Frost recommends that you consider keeping a journal or record of the ways in which you have alerted people (both in your congregation and out) about something that might be of interest to them about God.

That’s a pretty good list. But as all lists go, you’ve probably already come up with some criticism of it – some reason why it wouldn’t work for you. We do the same thing with the list that God gave us, the 10 commandments. We balk. We refuse to play. We take our metaphorical balls and go home.

Unless . . .

Unless there is something that gets us to the point of rest where we actually want to try something. Could there be a state we’re not guilted into doing something like work guilts us and school guilts us and kids’ sports guilts us and friends guilt us. We may laugh about being guilted into doing something at church (which I personally think is a terrible thing to joke about) – but if we actually ARE being guilted into something, then maybe we should stop and check ourselves. Why would God want you to respond out of guilt? And if He wants you to respond out of guilt, why would He do such an antithetical thing as dying on the cross for your sins in order to erase that guilt?

Being guilted into stuff is terrible. Even if it’s a pretty awesome list of stuff like the BLESS list above. Say no to guilt. Guilt isn’t God’s plan for getting you to do anything besides bringing that guilt to Him and letting Him say “I forgive you, go and rest in that.” And once you’re rested, maybe then we can talk about lists.