Just When You Think You Have it All Figured Out

There was a time in my Christian life when I used to think that everything I was taught in the church was simply true…no need to question. Ahhh…those were the days. No stress on the brain, simply listen, believe, obey and enjoy the trip. The only problem is that as I’ve been doing this trip I’ve come across other fellow travellers and have discovered that they are on the same journey, only they didn’t ‘hop on the train’ the same way I did, nor are they riding it the same way I am. Well, all of this has caused me some spiritual uneasiness because I’m finding that I’m asking myself a lot of questions.

Right now I’m wrestling with this whole thing of ‘discipleship’ – what that means, what it looks like and why it’s important. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit confused right now. There was a time when discipleship looked like going to church on Sundays, attending mid-week prayer meeting or small group, and serving within the church. It also meant acting like a Christian and in some cases dressing like one (although we now know that is a joke). So we all have our definitions of what it looks like.

If we could travel back to Jesus’ time, being a disciple of Jesus meant you followed him – literally. He was like your professor, and so you would get up, pack a lunch and off you go following him from synagogue, to fishing boat, to the marketplace, etc. He would teach as he went and you would watch him do life…and he would invite, call you to do life like him. I think…

But then he left and things changed. People now followed Jesus’ teachings and lived their lives for him.

I’m rambling and I want to get to my point before you check out of this post. Here’s what I struggle with…

We (the church, me and you probably) have sometimes led people to believe that all you need to do is say the ‘sinners prayer’ and you’re ‘in’…life will be better…you will get your dream job and overcome every obstacle. I feel like sometimes we dangle carrots in front of people promising them a pain free life. And then when they don’t get it, they check out. I feel like we’ve made Christianity out to be plastic and unreal. Turned Jesus into a personal Santa Claus, and everyday is going to be like Christmas.

I was at a men’s retreat this past weekend. We had a great time hanging out together and eating some awesome food. Community was fantastic. But there were a couple of times during ‘the sessions’ as we were singing or listening to speakers, I would glance around the room and look at all the guys. They had this look on their face of an earnest desire to be instantly transformed from the ‘bad guy’ they think they are to the ‘super-Christian’ we’ve told them they can become.

I was sad because I knew it wasn’t going to happen.

Listen…no where in Scripture does it say that we will be ‘instantly’ transfomed’. In his Gospel, John records Jesus’ words (let me paraphrase) – “life sucks, but I’ve overcome this sucky world.”

I’m 52 now and I’m convinced that following Jesus is much like staying healthy. Fad diets don’t work. You must change the way you eat for LIFE…it’s a lifestyle change FOREVER. I think discipleship in the church has failed because we think there’s got to be a better way or a quicker way to becoming more like Jesus, when in all reality, we’re just avoiding doing the hard stuff. We want it easy and we want it now. “Don’t make me work for it.” Come to think of it…we’re not much different then our culture, are we?

I’m in the middle of reading The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I’m not a happy camper because as I read, I’m starting to think that their approach (12 steps) to dealing with addictions is more in line with what Jesus intended then what the church in North America is selling. I can’t figure out how the founders of AA discovered it, but somehow, we seem to have missed it.

There are times as a pastor I feel like this street painter…

DANG!  Until next week…

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3 thoughts on “Just When You Think You Have it All Figured Out

  1. couldn’t agree more Scott! It makes me sad, because I do truly believe Jesus transforms us…but when we just say that alone, we set people up for huge disappointment and even loss of their faith.
    We also need to say that transformation is hard work…not that we transform ourselves by sheer effort, because anyone of us over 40 knows that that does not work. But it is hard work to ask ourselves the tough questions, to be honest with ourselves, to spend the time on our own spiritual health as you say, and to be vulnerable with God about what we need.
    For me I have learned over and over that God does heal and change me, but he takes his sweet time to do it. Even the times when I have experienced an amazing supernatural ‘touch’ from God in my life, it turns out that that ‘touch’ was just the starter’s gun, sending me down the track on the long race toward transformation.

    At the intersection of honesty and humility, that’s where I always find him…and when I don’t spend the time I need to get there…I stay the same.

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