full moon

April 9, 2004

hear it in the stairwell: Damien Rice (in preparation for tomorrow’s concert)

I struggle with the details. How much freedom do I have in this life? When do I embrace my heart’s urging confidently and trust its guidance? When do I treat my heart like a shifty politician and sift through its words with anxious trepidation. Some days I feel like my whole life is destined to be one long wrestling match, an interminable football game with a million overtimes and no winning field goal. Is it sacrilege to picture Jesus over on the sideline tightening up the laces on his cleats, kicking ball after ball into that practice net, wearing that silly helmet with the lone bar across the front. But is it my responsibility to get him within range? So he can split those fluorescent yellow, straight-and-narrow uprights. Is the center on my team hiking the ball, only to turn around and smear my bewildered, happy-footed quarterback. Are members of the opposing team wearing our jerseys? Is my tailback heading off in the wrong direction, why isn’t he protecting the football? Why am I drawing out this ridiculous football analogy? I hate football. Why can’t life be more like miniature golf where you have fun and tear up your score card after the 18th hole? I know there’s a point and sometimes there are specific ways to do things, but what if I choose to go around the windmill instead of through the clown’s laughing mouth? Is that so wrong? I know the clown’s laughing mouth is scary as hell, but is it wrong? That’s what I’m wondering.

As I ease this life-raft that is me into the world’s harbor, it is suggested that I begin with three or four sentences. Okay.

one.

Perfection is over-rated; mystery is under-rated.

two.

Individual authenticity lies in what we find is worth living for. –Ben Okri

three.

The best things are beyond words.

four.

Go fish.

On current discussion: concerning becoming bored with Christianity and that being the reason that so many leave the faith in their twenties and thirties, about cookie-cutter books and music and fish decals for our cars, about modern poetry being labeled as ungodly because it has no order, and so on and so forth.

Here is the problem I have with blaming the abandonment of faith on boredom or cookie-cutter Christianity: cultivating a relationship with the Creator of the Universe is a responsibility that lies solely on the shoulders of each individual for himself. If you get bored with your faith, there is nothing I can do for you except to point you back to the Giver of your faith. Is it the church’s responsibility to disciple and minister and teach and encourage believers? Yes, of course. But regardless of what the church is doing, you cannot blame a lack of faith on anyone but yourself. It is I who choose to believe in Christ as my Savior and it is I who choose whether or not to cultivate that relationship with Him on a daily basis.

People complain about Christian books and music and poetry and art being so terrible and lacking in substance, but have you really checked it out lately? If you have, I wonder how you could be so quick to judge. I would be hard-pressed to go into a Christian bookstore and not find something that would challenge me spiritually. Ever heard of C.S. Lewis, A.W. Tozer, Brennan Manning, or hundreds of other authors who write with such passion, such love for God?

Personally, I think one of the problems with our culture today is that they try to be too intellectual. I’m not a super-promoter of The Purpose Driven Life but the opening line says, It’s not about me. It’s all about God. Most of us would be doing well to remember that simple statement, which is not actually simple at all. You can talk philosophy or theology all day long, but if at the end of the day you haven’t remembered to yield your own life to God, your faith isn’t going to grow an inch. The plain and simple truth is that so many Christians need to be brought back to those basics, or maybe they never even knew the basics in the first place.

My experience has always been that when I am truly seeking to grow in my faith, no matter what the culture around me is doing, I never have a chance to be bored because there is always something to learn. The only chance I ever have to get bored is when I’m fighting the daily death to myself and becoming complacent, which is always my own fault.

With all of that said, I’m not trying to give the impression that I believe we should all hold hands while quoting the Prayer of Jabez or read about a purpose driven life every 40 days for the rest of our lives before we’ll be able to grow in our faith. God is the one who reaches souls, and who are we to say by what means He can do so? A couple of years ago, I thought I was going to rip my hair out if I heard anyone talk about The Prayer of Jabez one more time. But that wasn’t Bruce Wilkinson’s fault. He didn’t write the book with the intention to get the whole world on the bandwagon of wealth and prosperity. At least I don’t feel like he did and, since I don’t know his heart, I’m not going to judge him.

See, it’s all a choice. Those who leave their faith behind because they’re “bored” do so because they have chosen not to seek a deeper walk. Nobody got saved for them. It was a step of faith that they took of their own admission, and they left in the same way.

The point to all of this is that there are millions of people in the world who are going to have different views from you on everything. If it’s not an essential matter of salvation, why should we waste time by bashing what books they read or how they worship? We can’t blame the fads for boredom and use them as a scapegoat any longer. I think too many people use that as an excuse to live a mediocre Christian life. It just isn’t going to hold water when we stand before God and give an account for our life.

sermon done…gracefully stepping of pedistool…goodnight…

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