We live in an age my childhood self would love to have a glimpse of. I remember coming home in the afternoon when I was a younger elementary student and knowing I had the choice of public television for kids on VHF (all the other stations had soap operas or news programs on them) or cartoons on UHF but only on two channels. I had my favorite shows to watch but the window for seeing them was tight and if I missed it, I had to ask my friend David from up the street whether it was a rerun or not and if not, what happened? There were really only a couple of choices out there on regular television. Then came cable. My parents had a wire installed into the house and a special box that sat on top of the television. There were three rows of channels and a lever that you used to select the row before you pressed a switch to choose the channel on that row. Within a few years, we got the remote version and since then the choices have only grown.
This brings me to my current dilemma: streaming media services. Currently, our household has Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, and Netflix. Believe it or not it’s still cheaper than satellite or cable service but the dilemma would be the same. The problem is figuring out what to watch. When I’m look for something to watch alone, I think how bored am I going to be with this in the next few minutes? When I’m watching with the rest of the family I think, how bored are they going to be in the next few minutes? I find myself looking through the absurd number of choices thinking about how much I dislike it or how bored everyone else will be until I finally give up and turn it off or give the remote to someone else.
I think people feel like that sometimes with their Christian faith. Where do I start? What should I read? What should I study? Who should I listen to? I remember all those questions from the beginning of my faith journey and I still have them. Do I read popular preachers and learn about preaching? Do I read scholars and theologians to get to the deeper things of the faith? Do I sit in the backyard with a replica altar and offer up the neighbor’s cows as sacrifice? (Scratch the last one; Mr. Williams would look non too kindly on those shenanigans). Some churches and denominations put together extensive discipleship programs with intense classes and commitments. Some of them (Disciple, Alpha, etc.) are pretty good but people rarely have/take time to invest in those things. The truth is we all find ourselves in this place of not knowing where to turn to get started/keep going with discipleship and many people relegate themselves to the Jesus and me in a row boat mindset (I’ll just read my Bible and pray) or I’ll simply let Sunday morning suffice for all of it and do my best to be a good person.
What do we do to grow in faith in an age where there is so much choice at hand and seemingly so little time to devote? And now it seems I’ve written myself into a corner. Maybe not. Sometimes we complicate simple things, and this might be a simple thing we’ve complicated. Next week, we begin a series here on Simple Discipleship. We’ll try to answer the question, how do we become good disciples of the Jesus Way in a world that offers constant distraction and interruption? See you then.