going to church. studying your bible. scripture memorization. saving a few of your friends. these are not the ticket to heaven. in fact, Christ himself tells us that if we think those things are going to get us into heaven, he will get amnesia. He will say:” I never knew you”. This seems a bit harsh, now, why would Jesus say this? Because, he doesn’t want actions or guilt. He wants our hearts aka relationship with him (for those that think that Christ-following is boring — read this section again). If you get up and think “oh, i have to go to church” and then go out of guilt, you might as well have stayed in bed and talked to God. you might get more of out of it. A lot of conservatives might step in and say, “well, sometimes you have to force your way to feeling it”…but right here, and other places Christ says: I want your heart not your duty. Later on he tells his followers ” I desire mercy (heart) not sacrifice (duty)”. So, is there ever a time you should “force” yourself to do these things…yes! if you are avoiding these things because you are afraid or are lazy, then these are good. but if you look to these things as ways to get into heaven, i am sorry. duty is not a free pass. live with passion. yes, sometimes you have to force yourself to live with passion. but if you live with passion all these other things will fall into place. yes, it is that easy. Read Matthew 6:32-33.
if its broken you fix it. i grew up on the premise that i am responsible for fixing the things that i screw up. that if i threw a tennis ball into a neighbors’ window, I had to go buy them a new window. or maybe if i break someone else’s heart, i have to apologize and hope it mends well. yet, God does the exact opposite, he says let me fix it all for you. Let me take the very thing you had a part in breaking and fix it. Yet, there is a dichotomy here. David discovers while penning some poetry that God is close to the brokenhearted. In fact, the word in the verse actually means ‘near.’ my wife and i sometimes are sitting in close proximity to one another. this is not what David is saying here. it more likely that he could mean, ‘elbow to elbow’. you and god are touching. so, when you are all alone because someone you love has either moved on or died, God is nearer to you than you think. and when you think you’ve gone too far or God doesn’t ‘feel’ close, He is right next to you. When the tears fall on your pillow, he catches everyone. So fast forward a few thousand years to the time of Jesus the God-Man…and recorded in the book of mark, he says this: it is the sick i am after no the well. He was referring to the Pharisees who thought they had it all together, they were the theologians of their day…he said you think you know everything, so you don’t need me and i have no use for you. I know, I know, but Jesus wasn’t as much of a pansy as our felt boards on sunday have plastered him to be. Yes, he was saying that he was looking for those who knew they were needy. That happened to be the outcasts, the women, the children, and the mistreated. Yet, in the midst of all this, it got me thinking…I have to maintain a sense of sickness or brokenness to maintain my attractiveness to God. There was an episode on the TV show “House” where there was an older brother who was dying of blood cancer and the only way he could be saved was if his brother (same blood match) gave a part of his marrow. so one of the doctors in a quick reaction, strapped the kid down on the table and extracted the marrow while he was still awake and not under anesthesia. the young boy screamed and screamed and asked for the doctor to stop. both boys were standing side by side at the end of the show. sometimes we need to go through hurt and loss to become better. like some patients who find out too late to have anything done. maybe our creator and loving father allows us to experience pain (not that he wants to or its in his will for us to go through that) to somehow learn and maintain our sense of need for Him. He is committed to us remaining sick. He, like a lover, likes to be needed. Not in the insecure way a human to a human relationship might exhibit, but one where He is jealous of the time we spend with him. For those who think they have it all together….this is an opportunity to lay down your degrees and doctorates (literally and figuratively) and knowledge of who you think God is or should be and allow the divine illness of needing God to seep through your veins. He can only use you when you’re sick enough to need Him. Yes, He will always be there, this is true. But, how close do you want him near your hospital bed. Like a doctor would be or like a father would be? We live in a world where strength is praised. Where magazines like Men’s Health (they are not wrong in and of themselves) are flying off racks and the physical body is being praised and men are being stereotyped as one’s who never ask for directions (yes, for a lot of men this is true)…weakness is a sign of weakness. Yet, the invitation is to lay your burdens down, to lay your sickness as His feet and become strong. But, most of us are too strong for our own good (good church attendance, theological study, think you’re better than others, and etc…) or strength doesn’t have to be physical…it can be emotional or psychological..what is it for you? are you going to walk away from this like how you came..what are you going to lay down…how are you going to become sick? don’t forget your meds…!!
a young girl is forced into motherhood in a back alleyway….and we pray.
a village is ravaged because of greedy politicians…and we pray.
a baby is tossed into a blazing fire because it was too much for the local economy…and we pray.
a wife’s face is beaten in because her husband can’t control his anger…we tell her to pray.
be doers. step it up. commit to what you say you believe. james says we need to be doers not just hearers. put “feet” to our faith as the trite cliche echoes. james was speaking to a bunch of church leaders (pastor is nowhere in scripture). So how much more so are we challenged to love uncomfortably…To be among those who mourn. to touch the untouchable. to breathe new life (“nooma“, spirit) into those we encounter.
yet divorce rates are still high. youth pastors only stay around for a little over year. cell phones now have a no-commitment possibility. and life is just to easy to pass by. most people are in “survival mode” because there sense of commitment will only allow them so far. living life takes dangerous people. people of risk. people who choose to believe in their desired outcomes before they see them. people of the “jump”. who will jump chasms knowing they will land on the otherside. are you a person of the jump. if you are, people are waiting for you to take the leap to meet them where they are. so, Jump!!!