Wednesday, August 01, 2012

More Than I Am

This was the devotional thought I gave tonight with much trepidation. I was worried I might be boo'd off the podium. But apparently it made some sense and wasn't too ranty.

You may not like what I’m going to say tonight. I don’t like some of it. Recently I’ve been feeling that there’s a lot more to this Christian Life than what I’ve been living. Is this all God has called us to be? In our often works centered Christianity we talk about the need to DO more. But what Christ has for us is to BE more.

He doesn’t call us not to steal. He calls us not to want to steal.
He doesn’t call us to refrain from impure actions. He calls us to refrain from impure thoughts.
He doesn’t call us not to kill. He calls us to not insult and hate and look down on.
He doesn’t call us to worship Him. He calls us to be pulled so strongly to him that we can’t help but worship Him.
He doesn’t call us to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, heal the sick. He calls us to be filled with compassion so great that we can’t help but serve those around us.

What keeps us from being more? I can tell you that for me it is:  Fear. Insecurity. Complacency. Laziness. I’m perfectly comfortable in my life. Good family, good job, plenty of stuff.
And doesn’t Jesus accept us just as we are? We just sang “Just as I Am.” Yes, he does, in all our sin and imperfections, he welcomes anyone into his kingdom. But once there, we are not done. The new addition to the body is just beginning the journey, she has not arrived. The destination is being transformed to be like Jesus. That’s a long way to go.

What else holds me back? I am burdened by legalism. I am burdened by traditions held up as law that do not permit growth or change. I truly appreciate Jim’s lessons on Dependable Doctrine. As much for what he has not said than what he has said (though he’s not done yet). And his lessons on the Spirit, calling us to broaden our horizons and let the power of the Spirit live in and work through us. I am burdened when I want to be more, but those around me are just fine where they are. We have been complacent too long. Our heritage of restoring the New Testament church is done; somewhere along the way we figured we got close enough.

I’m burdened when I see our young people leaving the church in such great numbers. I worry for my own sons. Am I leading them in the right way? Our youth are not leaving because we’re not teaching them the right lists or memory verses. They’re not leaving because we didn’t pray enough before dinner, because we let them watch too much TV or play too many video games. They’re not leaving because they don’t know the stories. They’re leaving because they’re not part of the story. They’re leaving because when they ask the tough questions, we have nothing beyond trite sayings, traditions, and doctrine to offer them. They’re leaving because they see the church as an organization rather than an organism. They see a religion based on rules rather than a relationship. They see groups of people treated as second class citizens of the kingdom. They see a call to uniformity rather than unity. They see “Just As I Am” to mean “Just As Long As You’re Like Us”.

I want to be more… and yet I don’t. I don’t seem to want to take the steps necessary to be more. At least I haven’t taken those steps yet. Change is hard. Growth is hard. Snakes shed their skin. Butterflies leave the warmth of their cocoon. Birds fly out of their mother’s nest. What Christ has called us to be is hard. And sometimes we have to leave the warm (or extra chilly) confines of this building, to make it so.

I heard a statement recently that has stuck with me. “God didn’t give the church a mission. He gave the mission a church.” God put all of you here to help me be who he wants me to be. More than what I want, more than what I am. As a community, what are you doing to help me be more than what I am now? What are we doing for our young people, for the deaf, for the ladies, for the people of this community to help us all be more?
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