Fr. Christian Maxfield, Associate Rector of St John_s Episcopal Church, Naples, FL
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Question:  Father Christian, you are the Associate Rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Naples, Fl. How did your spiritual journey begin?

My spiritual journey began very early in life. Raised in a Christian family for whom being part of a church community was a priority, I was involved in the life of the church my whole life.  This close relationship with the Church- and more specifically with God- led me to take leadership roles in the church, starting within my own high school youth group.  This then led me to attend a Christian college where I earned an undergraduate degree majoring in Youth Ministry and Adolescent Studies, which led me on to study for and receive a Masters of Divinity degree at Nashotah House Theological Seminary.  Now ten years out of seminary, my wife and I have continued to follow the Lord where He has led as we have served the church in three different states and four parishes. I have been an Assistant Priest, a Rector, a Priest-in-charge, and I currently serve as an Associate Rector.

Question: I noticed you have tattoos on your arms, what is the story behind them?

I have always been an admirer of art, once again stemming from my childhood and going to the art museum on a regular basis. I consider my tattoos an artistic way that I remind myself, as well as others, who I am as a person and specifically that I am not my own, but rather that I was bought at a price and I am the Lord God’s possession by virtue of my belief and baptism in Him in whom I life, move and have my being.  The tattoos I have on my body each share a little about who I am in Christ and who I know God to be.  Just as any good art creates conversation, so do my tattoos; and when people ask me about them I have the opportunity to talk about my faith in God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and my Redeemer, who endured great suffering on my behalf and in whom I have been crucified that He may live in me (Galatians 2:20).

Question: Did you vote in the last elections? Do you follow politics at all?

I did vote and no, I really do not follow politics. Yet I continue to pray for our president, our governor, our mayor and all who are in leadership in our nation and in all nations – that they would know Christ in their own lives, that they would chose to lead as Christ did with a humble servant’s heart, walking in the light of the Lord.

Question: During our conversation you said something that impressed me very much – our relationship with God is like any other relationship. The more we work on it, the better it gets. Could you expand on that a little more?

Scripture says, “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers of rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). We were created to be in relationship with God – think back to the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve walked with God. Just as we humans were built to be in relationship with one another, so we were also built to be in relationship with our God. Just like a relationship with another person grows and thrives with loving effort and sacrifice, our relationship with God is able to grow and thrive when we make the effort and when we center our lives around Him. Likewise, the opposite happens if we neglect our relationships.

Question: Finding true love and dating is hard these days. What is your position on dating and marriage?

To be blunt, I believe our culture has tricked us into believing that it is fine to put the cart before the horse in many ways of living, including dating. We live in a world obsessed with instant gratification, which pressures us to think that we need to find love and companionship, or even just mere satisfaction, RIGHT NOW. Unfortunately this means that many people are living in such a way that they rush into relationships which they might not otherwise choose if they took the time to stop and pray and ask the Lord to reveal to them if this is truly the right path for them, taking the take the time to seek the wisdom and leading of the One who alone truly brings wholeness to our lives and who hears our heart’s desires.  When we take matters into our own hands- aside from God and His perfect way- pain, suffering and heartbreak often ensues. Therefore, I would be a proponent of the ‘old way’ of dating, taking time to actually date someone, getting to know someone through a number of social activities without opening up oneself to marital behaviors and characteristics until one is actually married and fully committed to spending ones life with the other person until, as our marriage vows say, we are “parted by death”.

Question: Would you end this article with an inspirational teaching and a challenge to our brains :), so what lesson will we learn with you today?

What is reality???? I have always loved movies, and going to see my favorite stories and actors on the big screen has always been a thrill. Yet this last time I went, something occurred within me of which I was not aware until some time later.

A month ago my wife and I went to see a movie in the theater. It was a good movie and we were looking forward to seeing it as it fits into a genre that we both enjoy. After leaving the movie I found myself feeling a bit uneasy, but simply believed it to be what I call the ‘movie magic brain meld’ which overcomes movie-goers after spending 2+ hours being mesmerized by an action-packed, fast-moving, emotionally-charged storyline.

It has been said that the eyes are a window into the soul, and I now believe likewise that when I watched this fictional film, it opened a door within me which allowed the evil one to plant seeds of false reality within my heart and soul, which only made it easier to listen to his lies in my life. Because of this, I was walking around dazed and confused, still getting on with the things I had to do: work, family, life, etc., yet doing so with an anxiety-ridden and depressing false reality tapping on my shoulder.

Upon watching another movie recently, which I would characterize as being in the genre of Christian faith, my heart and soul were overwhelmed by what is real and true: God’s Love for us and the blessings that come upon us every day from our choice to follow Him by letting Him into our lives to transform, heal and lead us in every way possible. This is what is real. In some sense, after the first movie I watched, I lost my sense of reality; and the second movie brought me back to reality. This to me is a reminder of what I already know but tend to forget, that we must be careful in what we watch, hear and do because the evil one will look for any way to lead us astray and thus gain some measure of control within our lives no matter how trivial or innocent it seems. Let us all be as innocent as doves and as wise as serpents as we make choices about what we- and those in our care- see and participate in day to day, that we would live with an upright and accurate sense of reality- that there is a God who loves us unconditionally and who made the ultimate sacrifice for us. If only we would actively choose to walk with Him, living in the reality of HIS Kingdom!