My name is Chris Thomas. I’m a fortunate husband, a father of three and Dad to five. I’m an advocate of foster care as an expression of the gospel. I’m a pastor at Raymond Terrace Community Church, a regional church based in the Hunter Valley, Australia. I mostly write about the gospel and how it informs both work and rest.

I’m A Recovering iChristian

I’m A Recovering iChristian

I remember reading a book once. It was a flame to my heart of wax. God whispered in unmistakable tones of his love for me, his grace that reroutes pathways of failure. His whisper sounded like an embrace feels. I remember where I was sitting when I closed the cover. I remember the feeling of settled contentment that comes when the heat of the burning bush is still a vivid memory. Two days later I sat sipping coffee with my friend in a familiar place. I told him about the book. I asked him to read it so we could meet again and talk about what consequences it would have. He did. Then we did. Back then, neither he nor I had a Twitter handle, or blog, I don’t think I even had a MySpace profile. We simply met face-to-face and talked about life, love, faith, and fears; I don’t even recall how we organised ourselves for our regular coffee and conversation, it just seemed to happen.

I was a much younger man then, full of bravado and ideas that would change the world. But now that I recall those days, my time was often consumed by helping an elderly friend tension fencing wire on his small farm. As I struggled to tame the coil of ever writhing wire, my dear friend would grasp deceptively strong hands around mysterious implements and perform miracles of nature. Without lasers or measuring tape, miles of fence would stand to attention in lines that disappeared into the horizon without deviation. “I’m just a simple man”, he’d say, “I can’t read too good and I don’t understand big words like you do. But I think Jesus wants me to live life like this fence—it’s got a job to do and it can’t do it if it keeps falling over.”

I’d forgotten that conversation. At least, I thought I had, but recently I discovered that it wasn’t forgotten, just buried. You see, I’m a recovering iChristian.

Let me explain.

Not too long ago I posted a book review online. I told people why I thought the author had addressed the subject so well, I affirmed his theology and writing skills, and exhorted certain types of Christians to go out and buy this book. I tagged the author in the post, the publisher, and inserted a number of hashtags ensuring it would hopefully show up in some significant feeds. Here’s the problem. I didn’t read the book.

Again, not too long ago, I was speaking in a breakout session at a regional conference on the topic of discipleship. I spoke about a guy I ‘meet up with’ on a regular basis to ‘help point him to Jesus’ as we both live out our faith. Truth is, I barely met up with the guy at all. We saw each other occasionally, but mostly messaged each other, actually, mostly he messaged me and I’d flick him a quick response—“Praying for you, mate.”—or something equally as insightful.

Ever so slowly, pixel by pixel, update by update, my walk with Jesus moved from the garden to the platform. Walking with Jesus wasn’t enough, I needed to make sure that others noticed that I was walking with Jesus. Public faith was prioritised over private faith.

I’ve discovered I’m not alone; I’ve been told it is an epidemic. Some think that this epidemic has grown in the proportion of our use of electronic devices, especially ‘smart-phones’. I’m not so sure about that. Maybe our iPhones are doing what the designers said it would do, make our lives more convenient. We can more conveniently add calendar items, more conveniently reply to a message, and more conveniently get from A to B. Just as we can more conveniently project an image of faith rather than live a simple life of faith. This was a problem before phones.

Now on the topic of brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. And indeed you are practicing it toward all the brothers and sisters in all of Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, to aspire to lead a quiet life, to attend to your own business, and to work with your hands, as we commanded you. In this way you will live a decent life before outsiders and not be in need.” (1 Thessalonians 4:9–12, NET)

I’m three chapters from finishing a book. It has been a powerful read, a useful topic that I’m sure will be helpful for others. I’m planning a coffee morning with a friend to talk about it. I’m a recovering iChristian. I still tweet and blog, but I’m trying to keep more dirt under my nails.

Weekend Wandering (09/6)

Weekend Wandering (09/6)

I Wonder If They’ll Still Like Me

I Wonder If They’ll Still Like Me