What does thriving as a Christian look like?

Hi friends,

In the FOMO Essay discussion, @kathleen shared an experience that made me curious to hear more. She wrote:

@kathleen, thank you for sharing this.

I wanted to ask the community: what does thriving as a Christian look like?

For me, the person I think of is my grandmother. I wept at her funeral because I loved her and I missed her. But mainly it was that she was such a GOOD person. Her consistent goodness is how I knew she was thriving in her faith. And because of that, when she sang a hymn with me, gave me a pearl of wisdom, or encouraged me in some way, it led me to love God more.

I’m curious to hear your stories and insights…


I’ve been thinking about this one a good bit, and trying to name/describe what I saw in my friends. I think it would be helpful to contrast it with my own distance I felt from God.

In myself, I was experiencing God (or what I thought to be God) as one who was always demanding perfection…or as close to perfection as a human can attain – wisdom. I need to listen perfectly in order to obey perfectly so that I can flourish. If I am not flourishing, then it is obviously my fault for not listening perfectly and obeying his instructions perfectly. Also, it doesn’t really matter what you feel, after all, courage is a commandment that must be obeyed. What I want doesn’t matter – all my desires must die because they are sinful. All my plans must be tossed aside because they will not help – only deepen the corruption that we are to be fighting against around us. God will give me new, better desires and plans once I begin to listen and obey perfectly…once I begin to live in wisdom.

Now, I read that last paragraph, and the truth of each of those statements strike me, but the overall feel of life was: $UCK IT UP. You don’t matter here. Listen and obey and don’t make me come down there. That is not exactly a type of being that encourages approach and relationship.

BUT, what I saw in my friends was a confidence and a comfort that came from relating to God as His beloved child and not his employee. I was having trouble moving out of a sinner-identity and into a familial relationship with the Father.

So what does one look like, who is thriving in the love of our heavenly Father? As we all know, looks can be deceiving, but one can get senses of people. So, among other things, I would say that one who is thriving is one who displays openness and humility. He/She is strong, courageous, wise, kind, merciful, just, creative, engaged, joyful (yet able to mourn), full of love for all creation.



That church culture and personal experience is familiar to me. I feel you’ve described it so accurately.

It’s a weird message: you’re totally corrupted, but don’t sin!

I think this teaching misses the joy of Genesis 1. There is so much extravagant delight, abundance, and blessing in God’s creation of everything, and of us.

Yes, morally and spiritually, we have turned away from God. But ontologically, in our very being, we are not just good, but very good.

I also think Romans 15:14 never made sense from that perspective:

My brothers and sisters, I myself am convinced about you that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another.

When our theological convictions make it impossible for us to hear and believe God’s word, we need to reform them. Isn’t it great?

As God’s beloved sons and daughters, we are full of goodness and filled with all knowledge! We’ve got what it takes to encourage one another in the way of Jesus.

And Paul is sure that the Holy Spirit is sanctifying us (Romans 15:16, 19). As the Spirit does his loving work in our hearts, our lives offer acceptable worship to God.

What else can be said? “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

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It is weird! And completely frustrating…demoralizing. It keeps one obsessed with purity (often couched in terms of ‘wisdom’) and blame (often couched in terms of ‘repentance’).

So true! Coming to terms with this dichotomy has been difficult coming from a spirituality that’s rather preoccupied with how fallen it is. To call anything related to humanity ‘good’ can be considered a ‘slippery s1ope’ to theological liberalism (:triangular_flag_on_post: :rotating_light: :triangular_flag_on_post: :rotating_light:). In light of that, it can be difficult to believe in the ontological value of humanity. It gets obscured by the obsession with moral fallenness and the fear of pride or being deceived…or other things.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve never really seen it before now! This is encouraging coming from Paul…in Romans, to boot – the crucial book of Reformed theology. Thank you for pointing it out. :slight_smile:

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