By Sara Knutson
When I was a kid, being Christian meant doing right in your personal sphere.
- Listen to mom and dad.
- Be honest.
- Go to church.
As a teenager, more guidelines emerged, but they remained firmly in the personal sphere.
- Don’t gossip.
- Dress modestly.
- Don’t cheat on tests or boyfriends.
- Get confirmed.
Something happened in college, though: that personal sphere was eclipsed by a global one. Being Christian also meant engaging the world.
- Do service.
- Give generously to church and charity.
- Vote conscientiously.
- Spend time with the poor.
I didn’t actually do much of this; I mostly stood on the sidelines and watched my more visionary friends take action instead. But as I progressed through my twenties, I gradually got there too.
After all, bringing down unjust structures and advocating for the poor made for an appealing style of living the gospel, a Christianity with pizzazz. It was definitely cooler than just being nice.
But recently I’ve been humbled to remember this: I didn’t graduate from personal morality. It didn’t stop being important to live a holy life in my personal sphere, to-
- Listen to mom and dad, even when I don’t agree.
- Be honest, even when the words are painful.
- Not gossip, even the other person is objectively a jerk.
- Call grandma, even when things are busy.
“Finding God in all things” is a well-known Ignatian buzzphrase, and I have a new sense of what it means, which is that everything matters. The personal sphere and the global one. Grandma and the people at the food pantry and sick kids in Sierra Leone. Social policy and my prayer life and that woman who won’t stop talking to me at the pool.
If God is present, it matters, and God is always present. Our great challenge is to act accordingly and live like we really believe it.