A Movement, not a Move In| 21 June 2021
We like to be comfortable. We like our clothes made of fabrics which breathe well and keep us cool or warm depending on the time of year. We like our houses to have heating and cooling elements and mechanisms to keep the air we live in a relatively static temperature year-round. We like our meals served at just the right temperature for the food and just the right temperature for the drinks. We place a great value on comfort as a people.
One thing American Christians also seem to like comfortable is our religious life and practice. Most of us find a place where we like the people, where they make us feel wanted. We look for churches with programs suiting our families–lively children’s programming, engaging youth programs, adult classes, bible studies, and groups for all ages and stages of life. Seemingly, American Christians want to find a church the way they find a house–find something you like, move in, a get comfortable.
The problem is, Christianity isn’t a move-in kind of thing. It’s a movement. As Jesus is walking down the road one day, someone says to him, “I’ll follow you wherever you go.” Jesus tells this would be disciple, “Foxes have dens and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Human One has no place to lay his head.” Essentially, Jesus is telling this person, “I’m not on my way some palace or comfortable estate or even a shack. I’m traveling from place to place, going about Kin-dom work, and roughing it. This isn’t a life of ease.” From the beginning, Jesus is clear: this isn’t a stroll in the park with a picnic at the end. Being a disciple, a true follower, is work and it isn’t easy work.
I think this is the problem with American Christianity. Our one-off prayer many call salvation is soft. Our easy to manage lists of dos and don’ts are soft and fit our culture. They make us feel good about ourselves but the never challenge us to grow, to think beyond where we are to where we are called. We claim God, country, and apple pie but the god is one we created, our country is one that is constantly at war with itself, and the apple pie is stale and flavorless.
We are too soft where faith and culture are concerned.
We are too comfortable where our faith is concerned.
We are disciples of a culture, not disciples of Jesus.
So, what do we do to fix it?
We shake the dust off our collective pews where we have been sitting. We shake the dust out of our souls, and we face the reality that the Christianity we have been sold by culture keeps Lifeway, Cokesbury, and denominational structures in business at the expense of what Jesus taught us to do. We must get back to learning and living the words and teachings of Jesus, words I think quite frankly are foreign to most of us. And this is not learning for the sake of learning or lording it over others, this is learning for the purpose of living. This is becoming the disciple who is Kin-dom focused. This is being the kind of disciple willing to risk the ridicule and embarrassment of even their own faith community to live out the Jesus Way as a reality.
The question is, will we?
Will we choose to grow past the few basic things we have been taught over and over and learn to see the Way of Jesus in another way? Will we choose to practice ministry in new places, in different ways, with people who are not like us? What are we willing to do to grow and survive? How far are we willing we go?
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