Have you ever heard someone say, when you approach them on a spiritual issue that makes them feel defensive, “well, God knows my heart.”
I have used the quote countless times when trying to defer attention from my own sin, and rebellion. In short, I usually say it as a cop out. This got me thinking about how little our “belief” or “theology” is distant and disconnected from our actual life. I mean did Jesus really just die to give us a ticket to heaven?
What about the here and now? Because the truth is, if Jesus doesn’t even affect our daily life, why would we think he would affect our after-life? If we don’t want to live with him every day while on earth, why would we want to live with Him forever?
Because the truth is, if Jesus doesn’t even affect our daily life, why would we think He would affect our after-life?
I mean, is Jesus even relevant? Does he actually want to invade my everyday life, or just give me a “get out of hell” free card? These thoughts began to stir in me a few years ago being a college student. I saw a ton of “believing” but not much “following” and wondered what caused the disconnect?
We all see it and know it. Everybody’s facebook has either “Christian” or “I love Jesus” under their religious views, and yet most Universities (Christian ones at that) seems almost in opposition of the Risen Son on most days. Why is this? Why is there such a disconnect between our words and religious profession and our actual practice?
In a book I read recently entitled “True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing in” the author offers a very graceful answer to this question. He does not do so in a way that scares off all the people on the fence, or condemns people who don’t have it all together (thank goodness or else I would be condemned).
He rather comes to the conclusion that during the new testament times the gospel was more connected to real life, it was seen as a beginning not an end, and lastly it dealt with the here and now not just where we go when we die. He argues that distorting these truths has got us to the place we are today. Most people preach a gospel that is all about the “decision” rather than the “following.” Interestingly enough, Jesus never used the word “decision” yet he used “follow me” frequently.
Jesus never used the word “decision” yet He used “follow me” frequently.
The two competing ideas around this subject the author states is “decisionalism” versus “transformation.” He argues, similar to the video below, that we have somehow invented this middle road in the christian life where we can give mental assent to something but never give Jesus transformation consent. A.W. Tozer summarizes the nature of true faith the best, by stating, “In the Book of Acts faith was for each believer a beginning, not an end; it was a journey. Believing was not a once-done act; it was more than an act, it was an attitude of heart and mind which inspired and enabled the believer to take up his cross and follow the Lamb whithersoever He went.”
He is not trying to be an eternal buzz-kill when He asks us to surrender all for Him; instead He is trying to bring us deep, lasting, transforming joy.
So my encouragement is to come to the Lamb, and actually follow Him. He is not trying to be an eternal buzz-kill when He asks us to surrender all for Him; instead He is trying to bring us deep, lasting, transforming joy. He is worthy, and from past experience I know there is nothing more depressing and unpleasing than a life that is lived on the middle road.
When you’re on this road you have traffic pulling you in both directions. You have too much of God to be happy in the world, and you have too much of the world to ever be fully happy in God.
My change came though when I realized Jesus’ words dealt primarily with the here and now, i.e. the kingdom of Heaven. It is here! It has been ushered in! He didn’t just call us to believe something so we know where we go when we die (even though he does offer solid assurance). We are the first fruits of Jesus redeeming everything from business to music to the earth.
He has offered us spots as pioneers of His kingdom, and to be His hands and His feet bringing the world love, peace, joy, forgiveness, and redemption. When Jesus was on earth He was only one place at one time. Paul however says that after His ascension we turned into the body of Christ.
Wherever we are, He is. He offers us different gifts, and talents, and gives us power to further His kingdom. Now I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot better than just believing a pseudo-math equation about Christianity.
Now I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot better than just believing a pseudo-math equation about Christianity.
Too often though, I find myself cheating the Savior out of his worth that is due. I find myself saying I follow him while my actions deny him also. But what I continually realize is that transformation comes through following Him.
I learned this lesson just a few years ago playing baseball in college. We had a set of uniforms, plays, signs, and camaraderie with one another which unites us and brings bond. But, I got closer to everyone on the team though by interacting with them, reading the play-book, and listening to the coach. It does not happen just by wearing the jersey. When you are on a team it shows. Join the team at your church and attend regular prayers.
So it is the same with Christians. Do you follow him? Do you enjoy spending time with your team (i.e. other believers)? Does it show? As stated earlier, nothing is more dangerous than the middle road. Take it from me, it offers false assurance and breeds no peace, joy, or love. But thank goodness Jesus didn’t call us to a middle road but the narrow one that brings Life!