Saving the Church
Somewhere along the way it has become normal to be nominal. Attending a Church has become the definition of “saved” and doing a “quiet time” the definition of faithful. I’m not bashing the body of Christ, but somehow, somewhere along the way the Church in America is going to have to have a revival. There are significant reformations that need to take place in order for the Body of Christ in America to stay viable and fruitful. The alternative is to become a series of historic relics like the “Church” in much of Europe. 150 years ago Western nations were sending missionaries to a spiritually barren China. Now, China could legitimately be sending missionaries to the west. Christianity throughout many parts of Europe has dwindled to a remnant of what once was, while the number of Chinese Christians is growing rapidly. What happened in Europe could easily happen to us if we don’t become serious about being devoted followers of Christ and making disciples. My concern is not that the Kingdom of God will fail. I believe God will accomplish his purposes on this planet. I don’t doubt his sovereignty. My concern is for stagnant and ineffective Churches, wherever they exist, especially the one I know well, the American Church. There are many issues that are pertinent to the long-term health of the American Church. I wouldn’t claim to have the prescription, as I am certainly not the Great Physician. I merely wish to add my voice to an ongoing, centuries-old dialogue. There are many far more credible voices and lives than mine, but my voice and life is the only one I’m accountable for. So, I humbly offer these observations…
Being a Christ follower is necessarily an act of self-denial (Luke 9:23). There absolutely must be a definitive recognition of sin, repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10), and surrender of self to the complete Lordship of Jesus Christ. To wear the name of Christ means to have surrendered every moment, every desire, every hope, every action, and every resource to his will and authority (Luke 14:28-33). It can mean nothing less. Following Christ can never be a part-time proposition. It can never be a hobby or side-interest. Following Christ and being in Christ is first and fully an act of utter destruction, without which new life cannot be found. You must die to live (Mark 8:34-37). The old must pass away or more practically speaking be given away or relinquished (2 Corinthians 5:17). Christ will not build a new life on the old foundation of your selfishness. He will build only on the foundation of himself. In truth, there is no other foundation. To quote the old hymn…
My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.
So many people are wearing the name of Christ on their shirt or bumper sticker, yet have never become acquainted with repentance and grace. I meet and minister to so many people who are legitimately unclear about their status in Christ. “I think so”, is not an acceptable response to the question, “are you born again?” One becomes a Christian through a definitive response to our sinfulness and the grace of God to reclaim us from our lost-ness, through Christ. The event should be remarkable and the results unquestionable. Total surrender isn’t hard to recognize. Those who walk in the Spirit produce spiritual fruit. Anything short of surrender isn’t conversion. It’s something like expired term-life insurance. It will give you temporary peace of mind, but pay nothing when you die. As the Church, we must recognize the critical nature of this problem. Daily surrender and spiritual fruit should characterize normal Christianity. The sinful self cannot be improved upon, it must be killed.
The great commission is the personal mission of every believer. The passion of God is to redeem and restore every lost and broken person who will recognize his sovereignty and receive his grace. Many Christians seem to believe that God’s primary concern is the comfort and happiness of the saved. This worldview is simply untrue, unbiblical, and unproductive. God’s concern for me is that I bring glory to his name. In doing so, I will be living out my new abundant life, new purpose, hope, and destiny. My joy is found not in the Father pleasing me, but in me pleasing the Father. I am his…at his pleasure…and for his pleasure. We desperately want to build another compartment of thought which allows us to blend our finite notions of pleasure and success with his infinite and eternal knowing. This hybrid self-help/Christian faith world-view seems to many an acceptable compromise. In truth, this way of being is more antithetical to the actual call of Christ than any other position. Jesus is nauseated (Rev. 3:14-18) by this kind of deceit. Jesus will not be added to someone’s to-do list. There’s nothing left to-do but, follow him. Ok…practically speaking you may need to make a list so you won’t forget things. The question is are you surrendered to his Lordship? If Jesus is Lord of my life then I have died to me and now live for him. The Church is the people of God, and the people of God have been commanded to “go into all the world”. The grace of God should never find itself on a dead end road. I am commanded to re-gift the greatest gift ever. A Christian by definition is on a mission!
The Church is historically prone to stagnation and poor self-assessment. The difficulty of the present challenge is that the Church has to deal with years of denial. It is hard to face our own failures. None of us wants to consider the possibility that the religion of our parents and grandparents is deeply flawed. None of us wants to be the one to ruin the grading curve for the whole class. It’s a reasonably well-established and comfortable equation…Work hard, be good, go to Church, respect others, and enjoy life. This is a very doable formula! Maybe the path to heaven isn’t really that narrow? It is dangerous to mess with the formula. It has been done in the past, but not without scars. Even Jesus wasn’t sufficiently convincing to the entrenched religious establishment of his day. The call to “come and die” is far less abstract and ambiguous than we like to pretend. To reflect the actual intent of Christ will cost us more. It will cost me more. It will cost…everything. The time has come for painful honesty. I believe this is an ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, made difficult by our pride and lack of faith. I suspect that the Body of Christ will continue to be fragmented by denominations for the foreseeable future, but if “The Church” doesn’t learn to embrace itself then the prospects for any kind of widespread revival are bleak. The Church was never meant to be a grand religious institution, but rather an intentional departure from such conventions. The environment of our Churches often resembles the religion of the Pharisees more than the Revolution of Christ. I’m not sure what it should look like exactly, maybe because it is so organic, dynamic, and intangible. I don’t think we should keep obsessively searching for the perfect paradigm or Church growth model. If such perfection can be achieved it can only be attributable to the Holy Spirit and is irrevocably connected to the moment that just passed. We never create perfection, but through surrender we encounter it. I’m tired of the Church imitating the patterns of the capitalistic, leadership worshipping, efficiency based systems of this world. It’s time to be honest and admit that we just aren’t that smart! We just aren’t as capable as we would like to think we are. We can run the church like Microsoft, but it will always be God who draws the hearts of men to repentance. If God leads us to do bi-annual evaluations of our ministry peers then let’s be faithful to follow. But, if he tells us to live honest lives and speak words of encouragement and correction to one another…do we really need to do evaluations? Is relational health and transparency best accomplished through an evaluation form or clever web-based questionnaire? I just don’t think that’s what Jesus had in mind! This is what corporations do to manage relationships and efficiency. I think it’s helpful for making money, but not disciples. I’m not interested in the testimonies of corporate success. Yes, there are transferable principles and synergistic formulas, but the Church doesn’t need transcendent leaders. Jesus is our leader. It is his universe…his vision…his…plans and goals and initiatives…his fame…his reputation…his influence…his sacrifice. The Church needs surrendered followers pointing the way to Christ. The formula is followership! It’s messy and uncomfortable. We would rather have a tidy formula, which lends itself to a clever logo, which looks good on multiple print mediums. Formulas are easier than faith.
There are places where Churches and their leaders are being honest and seeking diligently. God is using these churches. They are breaking out of the pack because they are leveraging spiritual power and authentic passion. Maybe the leaders in these Churches have read “The Art of War” or “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, but I am confident that is not the source of spiritual transformation in their communities. Healthy and fruitful Churches are following God and exalting the name of Christ. Sadly, these Churches are expending great energy and resource to counteract the paralysis of other parts of the body. In effect, the body of Christ is pulling against itself. It feels like one of those tug-o-war scenes where everybody is dug in and pulling hard, but nothing is happening. It’s time to be honest. It’s time to be humble. It’s time for the Church to embrace itself. It time to quit looking for world-class leaders and start looking for authentic followers. It’s time to repent from our pride and to rediscover our desperation for God’s leading. It’s time to remember that God is king and in his kingdom everything is upside-down…last is first…weak is strong…leading is serving…freedom is slavery…death is life. Why would we take our cues from our secular business leaders? Because it’s easier than admitting our complete dependence on Jesus Christ! When I look at the great leaders of the historical Church, I never see them talking about the things that we have spent decades perfecting. The common themes are humility, surrender, prayer, reflection on the word, and Proper understanding of God through his word. It was never about excellent Church services and efficient structures. Our single pursuit must be following Jesus, the one that has been given all authority. I think our Christian culture is in most ways a reflection of our American culture. We are primarily driven by our desire for the safety and comfort that we inherited from another generation. Our Churches tend to be far more interested in paving the parking lot, building a gym, or getting a better sound system than reaching the lost and making disciples.
Programs don’t disciple, people do. I am a firm believer in and defender of the local Church. The New Testament clearly affirms the vision of Christ for a vibrant loving community. That community is an essential component of God’s plan to reconcile the lost. The world can see and experience the character and heart of God through his people, the Church. Organized events, gatherings and programs are inevitable and vital. However, the discipleship process necessitates that disciplers are discipling disciples. Jesus sent out real people with real passion into their communities and beyond. In our modern mass-produced media driven culture we count on programs. Our Churches have become more dependent on publishing companies and gifted communicators and less dependent on the Holy Spirit. The Church must recapture the spirit of discipleship. Jesus did not say “go and build churches” or “go to your local church and serve well” or “go and facilitate spiritual dialogue with your ultra-hipster friends at Starbucks”. He said “Go into all the world and make Disciples”. We have exchanged the impossibly challenging life mission given to us by our Master for some evangelism strategy that includes a clever acrostic and can be summed up over lunch. Christ tells us plainly to go into all the world and make disciples. This mission is just simply too burdensome for many of us. So, we adopt our own versions of the Great commission. “Go to work and don’t lose your temper.” “Go to that party and refuse to drink.” “Go into the mall with a smile on your face.” We have come to confuse two Biblical metaphors. Jesus has told us that we are a “light to the world”. I think this metaphor is more profound than we tend to think. For many Christians, this verse becomes their great commission and their understanding of how they contribute to the world. Many Christians are left with the general sense that it is their mission to be a positive influence. For these people “light” equals kindness and friendliness. To be a “light to the world” is to be more happy and blessed than those around you who are challenged and convicted by your positive attitude. It is easier to be a happy light than to be a missionary to a broken world. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” This is not a call to “shiny happy people everywhere”, but a call to die to self.
To be continued….
It’s become commonplace to hear people, espesially in the media, discussing things like greenhouse gasses, eco-friendly living, and carbon footprints. I must admit I’m a bit of a sceptic when it comes to environmental issues. My thinking has been shaped by images of crazy hippie scientists who are protecting mother earth through the use of terror tactics and propaganda. Needless to say, I’m not a tree-hugger. I like the fact that animals and plants are on the planet, as long as they don’t get in the way. I rarely litter! I want desperately to kill the armadillo that is destroying my yard. I would choose to let dogs and cats starve and focus on starving humans. To many “greenies” my passivity towards eminent ecological destruction is pure foolishness. Nevertheless, it’s just not that important to me. People are important to me!
I am intrigued by the concept of my “carbon footprint”. The amount of carbon dioxide that is produced into the atmosphere in order for me to live and consume and move about. The average American has a carbon footprint of 20,000 tons a year. I calculated mine at 23,000 tons. I am proud to say that I am above average. It is interesting to think that my daily living has a tiny impact on the Earths atmosphere. In a sense, Every choice I make has an atmospheric consequence. By leaving on the bathroom light I am needlessly broadening my carbon footprint or by using less conditioned air I am shrinking my footprint. This concept actually fits easily with my worldview. I already have a deep-held belief that each of us are creating a footprint or impact with our lives.
I concern myself with the idea of my “spiritual footprint”. I want to know that my spiritual impact on this earth is significant. I want to change the atmosphere. I want to fight the evil and filth that has seeped it’s way into the cultural environment. I want to help restore that which was once beautiful and sacred. I see sin as pollution. I see souls as the fragile atmosphere. I see families and marriages and integrity as the endangered species. Many people are deeply concerned with minimizing their environmental footprint. I want to maximize my spiritual footprint.
Throughout human history there have been rumors and debates about “the end.” Some prepare for a cataclysmic event, while others resort to impassioned recycling. The trouble for us is a nagging awareness of the finite nature of our existence. I recently enjoyed watching a program on TV called “doomsday preppers.” It is very interesting to see the lengths to which people will go for the sake of gaining an edge on finality…cheating death…buying a few more days, or even years. They would rather shoot hoards of desperate starving neigbors, than have their food supplies dwindle too quickly. What if these people could live without concern for dying? What if instead of storing up they could give away?
I think the Church, though less extreme and noteworthy, is guilty of acting the same way. We know the end is near! We know that the answer is Jesus. We know that death and finality have been crushed on the cross. We know that Jesus offers eternal hope. And yet, we build our defenses and store our wealth. We build grand structures that will one day be dust. We pay into retirement plans and insurance premiums to cover whatever our other insurance doesn’t cover. We gather things to make us feel safe and to measure our success. If every person who claims to be a Christian would live like Christ…hunger could be chased off the planet…the fame of Christ could spread rapidly…salvation stories would be the news of the day…the eternal kingdom would prevail over the temporal world…the end would come with a triumphant trumpet blast that would shatter every pain, hurt, and hunger…The faithful would find that their retirement plan is infinitely greater than expected…Every ailment has been covered…No more endings! Let us not claim to have security in Christ while trusting in things that anchor us to the temporary. Let us be like the apostle Paul, for whom Physical death represented the fulfillment of every hope. Let us live out that hope for a world that faces a terrible end. What if being prepared really means having nothing left to hold onto, but Christ?
I wrote this a while back, but never posted it…not sure why.
I’ve always felt an uncomfortable feeling in regards to my Christian experience. I believe it’s the canyon that separates who I am and who I think I should be. There’s a nagging sense that I’m way off the mark. Sometimes I get frustrated by these feelings, other times I simply ignore them, but they are fairly constant.
Is it possible that I’m just not good at being a Christ-follower? Is everybody else experiencing a different level of satifaction than me? What will happen if other people become aware of my questions? Do other people already know that I’m not perfect?
I have recently been trying to wrestle with these frustrating feelings. I genuinely desire to please God with my life. The consistent tendency for me is to pay closer attention to the things I do. My intentions are good, but my perspective is off. I find myself wanting to go through my day like a pre-flight routine…read Bible…check…prayer…check…Be plesant…check…encourage…check… The list goes on and on. All of the boxes are checked and therefore I am a spiritual giant…right?
The truth is…I can’t be like Jesus by checking boxes. It’s not about the stuff I’m doing. I don’t mean to dismiss any of the things on my checklist, but to remind myself that any of these things are more likely to produce self-righteousness then true Holiness if I’m not living by the Spirit. At the end of every day, there’s only one question that matters…did I walk closely with God? If I am intimately close to God then the boxes will get checked.
As followers of Christ, our most productive times of growth come in the midst of challenge or struggle. We usually go kicking and screaming, but eventually see the brushstrokes of God. After a while growing Christians learn to embrace a bit of comfort-busting struggle. There’s an inevitable tension between who we are, and who we ARE in Christ. This is a normal, unavoidable, even healthy tension. I’ve come to believe that comfort is the enemy of progress. So, being a follower of Jesus should be humbling. Being a follower of Jesus should be challenging. Being a follower of Jesus should be transforming. Our walk with Christ should be hopeful, fulfilling, and adventurous, but not comfortable. The call of Christ is to “deny myself, take up my cross daily, and follow him”. Crisis can cultivate Christian character or create crippling confusion. Do you C what I mean? (Alliteration makes me happy!)
As a follower and pastor, I’ve seen this tension turn into spiritual paralysis for many people. It’s one thing to have a nagging awareness of the gap between what is and what should be but, what happens when that gap becomes a canyon? – insurmountable – disheartening – deflating. You’ll think that you’re a model Christian then some sermon series, book, or personal struggle will obliterate your illusion. For some time you’ve been thinking you had arrived a place of spiritual correctness, only to find that somehow you’re back where you started, still facing a canyon. You will have to wrestle with your spiritual journey, looking for moments of truth and revelation. You may even doubt everything…am I saved? Is God real? Have I been faking transformation? Is my Church the problem? How did I not know I was so far off target? Do I have what it takes?
The canyon experience is important. It’s a priceless gift! As long as you are a citizen of this broken world there will be a great chasm of sin, rebellion, apathy, and ignorance. The perfection and holiness of Christ is both in us and infinitely beyond our grasp. It’s hard not to focus on the distance traveled or yet to be traveled. You just have to take the next step and know that you are one step closer to the goal. Sometimes my spiritual journey can feel like a poorly documented vacation I took a long time ago. Like I have an old picture of a beautiful sunset, but now I’m not even sure if I was there. Satan would love to convince me that I was never there and my story is a lie that I invented to impress other travelers. But, I KNOW I was there! I remember being so weary, and how I plunged into the cool canyon river and how I saw a sunset the color of hope. It was the most refreshing sensation I’d ever felt. I did not make this up or exaggerate the impact. I was changed. I am changed. I know that I have carried on a real conversation with God for years. I know he hears me. I know he speaks to me. I’ve literally felt his touch. But the glimpses are brief enough and the sensations fleeting enough to leave plenty of room for faith and/or doubt. Nothing can invalidate my experience with God. The canyon we feel is the reality of God’s holiness, but not his nearness. His holiness is elusive to us, but his presence is not. He walks with us towards himself… He guides us through the canyon of his divine character. Don’t be surprised to find that you have barely begun to understand an infinite GOD. It makes sense that, even a million steps into infinity is like standing still. Don’t let the canyon be a discouragement, but rather be in awe and dive into the river. Document your adventure. Build little mile-markers along the way. Tell your stories with passion. Keep exploring, but know that you will not find the other side of his Holiness.
The point that I’m trying to make with all my metaphorical babbling is…
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Don’t get discouraged. Just keep training. Keep to the trail. Get solid spiritual counsel and encouragement. Whatever the next step is…take it! You are just fine as long as you don’t give up! Get down into that canyon. it’s ok…you are supposed to get lost!
Directly in front of me I see a computer screen, then my boots propped on my desk, then an ugly wall. Beyond the wall I am using my experience and imagination, but I’m certain that there is a hallway, two other walls, a short piece of grassed land, woods, houses, Highway 278, Newton County, northeast Georgia… My mind catalogues everything I know into space and time markers. I have no memory that doesn’t include a picture of some sort and an affiliation with some particular time or season of my life. Our minds are beautiful in the way that they can capture, categorize, and recall events and impressions. Everything that I know to be true has been affirmed and re-affirmed through sensory input for over a billion ticking seconds of awareness. Frame by frame my mind files away details and data that create a hazy scratch-n-sniff photo-album full of images and smells and sounds and impressions.
The one thing in this universe that I cannot reduce to a set of observations is God. He is infinitly beyond my mind’s capacity. He is the exception to every rule. He is, at the same time, aware of time, and beyond it. I just can’t process that. How could God have an awareness of time, yet not experience time? Somehow God does.He just is! I think herein lies the great conflict of humanity and the beginnings of a thing called faith. The conflict is, of course, that we insist upon knowing that which we cannot possibly know. The moment that God becomes un-mysterious to you, He has ceased to be an all-powerful infinite God, but rather some creation of your own pride and ignorance. There are things that we know to be true about God…revealed things…experienced things…even seen things, but the image is infinitely incomplete. Faith in the God of the Bible requires us to relinquish our experiential confidence. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)”
If I am going to surrender my life to God, then I must be in constant pursuit of greater understanding of Him. If I’m going to live a life of faith, however, I must be humbly at peace with my limitations. God has made himself known, but he will not be discovered. He cannot be revealed or explained. He is no “Wizard of Oz”. There is certainly a part of me that wants to have everything figured out, but I sure am glad that God is much much bigger than my comprehension. His nature is paradoxical and unnatural. His size and power are unthinkable. His plans are often illogical. His Knowledge is unfathomable. He is limitless! The more I understand of him the more I love him. That thought helps me to grasp heaven a little better. One endless day I will know him in way that will overwhelm everything but love. Then…I will spend eternity exploring his perfection.
I’ve been thinking a lot about discipleship. I have several intuitive thoughts that I’ve decided to work out…right here…right now… I’m genuinely interested in feedback and would love to incite some dialogue.
My walk with Christ is the most important and defining part of me and of my worldview. I have dedicated my life, career, family, and resources to building the Kingdom of God, through my Savior Jesus Christ. I believe Jesus is my savior and my access to the Father. This is all absolutely true!!! I know that my life is in the hands of a perfect Father. So…Why am I so perpetually frustrated in my relationship with God? Why do I feel that the rituals and plans that have been prescribed to me always fall short of the promised intimacy and fulfillment? Why do I secretly wonder if others experience the same dryness? Even as I wrote that last question, I feared the judgment of the faithful ones, who just ended their quiet time with tears and tingles…
So here’s the UGLY truth…I can’t stand the phrase “quiet time”! For as long as I can remember “quiet time” has been the scourge of my Christian experience. I’ve been led to believe that the definitive gauge of my growth in and love for God is the quality of my quiet time! My relationship with God can best be expressed in some variation of this formula: 1)Have a consistent place that is comfortable and free of distraction 2)begin with prayer 3)move on to the word- a predetermined plan is preferable. 4)end with prayer and/or journal. All of this should take a minimum of 15 minutes (for beginners) or longer in proportion to ones spiritual maturity and depth…more than an hour is dangerous, as the very real possibility of self-righteousness begins to develop. Therefore, one should have a lengthy quiet time, but not so much as to promote pride. While variations of this formula do occur and are widely accepted, it should be noted that God only gives full credit for complete compliance and that partial compliance to this time honored formula is only acceptable in the case of extreme busyness, family emergency, or on the backside a conference or retreat and partial credit will only be allowed for an ambiguous amount of time… Please don’t be too put out by my sarcasm…I really can’t help it…you see… I didn’t have a quality quiet time today!!!
Seriously, I’ve recently been thinking about the undeniable human tendency to reduce the abstract and spiritual mysteries into a formula that can be distilled and packaged and reproduced. The problem isn’t “quiet time” or the notion of spending quality time with God. I think the problem begins with our understanding of relational connectivity to The God of the universe. Nowhere in scripture does God command us to dedicate a certain time to being with him. Nor does his proximity to us change based on our awareness of his presence…he is ever-present. God is not confined by any force! He is in all times and all places at the same time. Therefore it is silly of me to suggest that I will meet him at a certain time and place, as if he’s waiting there checking his watch. Many people that I talk to describe their “quiet time” as if it were an appointment or an item on the “to do” list. They will say “I’ve got to get back in the habit of doing my quiet time” or “I missed my quiet time this morning…I’m really struggling”. People seem to really think of it as a spiritual obligation. If I ask someone “how are you doing spiritually?” nine times out of ten they will respond “well, I’ve been working on my quiet time”. It seems to me that adherence to some spiritual formula is really tricky business, in light of the fact that the Biblical formula to meditate on the word of God at all times and to pray without ceasing doesn’t seem to allow for allotments of “God ” time. As I read the Scriptures, God is the absolute owner of my life, time, and resources. He doesn’t require some allotment of your time to satisfy his relational appetite, but rather has orchestrated a situation wherein you and I fully belong to Him! I actually think that as a Christian culture we have replaced “die to self” with the far more palatable “devotional time”. Death is too permanent and inconvenient. I’ve got far too many things to accomplish today…to be dead! Instead of getting caught up in the mysterious spiritual stuff, we are comforted by a measurable formula! Then we say,” Oh! I get it! Death to self means 30 minutes to an hour of devoted “god time! That is something I can do…just not today…I got too much to do!” The point is, if God doesn’t have all of me He doesn’t have me at all! If I believe that God is something to be added to my schedule, then I’ve fundamentally misunderstood the deal that God has offered to me in Christ!
I recognize that, on a practical level, sincere believers want to know how to remain in or abide in Christ…to walk with him daily. The answer to this question isn’t as simple as you would think. Jesus himself was fairly abstract in his descriptions of a Follower. He said “if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” and “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” We also know that Jesus was in the habit of spending time alone with The Father. The Apostle Paul is a bit more descriptive in his letters, saying “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart”. Acts 2 describes a Group of believers who “devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…everyday they continued to meet together”. There are many other scriptures that add to our collective understanding of the “faith walk”. When you add it all up it doesn’t ever equal a nice neat tidy little formula. It is from any angle a reckless abandonment of everything to a God I’ve never seen. I think the obsession with formulas is mostly attributable to our selfish nature. I don’t think it is motivated by our true desire to know God and walk with him as much as a desire to haggle with the spirit of God over the cost of discipleship. We want to his bottom dollar price…”What’s the least I can offer…and still walk out of here with salvation…how bout a half an hour?” Again, I recognize that my thoughts are dripping with sarcasm which might undermine the truth of what I’m saying, but honestly I’m frustrated that this thinking is pervasive in the Church and I think our use of the phrase “quiet time” is perpetuating some bad theology! It’s all his time…some of it just happens to be quiet. By the way, this morning I did pause to approach God with a surrendered heart (quiet time). I intentionally didn’t say amen…we’re still talking.
Try not to put God in a box. Do something creative to show your love to him…imagine him laughing at something silly you do…ask God if he wants to go for a walk to see his creation…share your fears and frustrations with God as you experience them…be quiet…be loud…be sad…be funny…be real in his presence… There’s one person in the universe that totally gets you…and totally loves you!
One last thought…If you intend to only give God 30 minutes of your day. It might make more sense to talk to him 60 times throughout the day for 30 seconds or 120 times for 15 seconds. Discipleship is relationship, not routine!