I turned 30 a few weeks ago. This doesn’t seem possible as I was in high school just a couple of years ago. And now after having been thirty for several days, I’ve decided that my first twenty-nine years were
crap a warm-up for the rest of my life.
Sometime between birth and 30, I learned about this thing called “a personal relationship with God” that I was supposed to have. It seemed to be pretty important and I invested a lot of time nurturing it and caring for it. Not as much as I should have, but enough to feel pretty good about myself. Church unintentionally reinforced the idea that this whole Christian thing was primarily about this personal relationship and experiencing the goodness God offers ME so that I will a) go to heaven and b) be spared the earthly consequences of sin.
Both of which are GREAT NEWS.
I have been following Jesus solely so that I can reap the benefits.
When did I decide that my spiritual life was only about me? I went to youth events and bible studies and camps and classes and retreats and gradually those morphed into life groups and podcasts and conferences and more bible studies and I got really good at being good. Each event got me all fired up to live a life of kindness and sobriety and chastity and modesty and all those Christian descriptors in which I prided myself.
Gosh. I was really nailing this whole Christian thing.
But is my purpose to be kind and sober and chaste and modest? Is that really what Jesus put me on this earth to be? Sweet and precious and abstaining from “all those bad things” that separate me from “all those bad people”?
How did I so glaringly miss the point? How did I let my Christian-ness become a badge of pride?When did it become an us and them? When Jesus made it SO clear that his gift is for ALL?
Church, bible studies, conferences, life groups. These are all REALLY GOOD THINGS. They are really good things that God uses not to convince us to be good people, anyone can be good, but to transform us into SENT people.
If we really listen, really believe that this is GOOD freaking news, if we really absorb what the bible keeps saying over and over, why are we not tackling people in the streets, bursting at the seams to share this chance at peace and comfort, grace, FREEDOM, eternal life, and total acceptance under the cross. Where is our urgency? Do we not really believe it?
If we are going to attempt to be like Jesus, then yes, we need healing and teaching. We need discipleship and guidance. We need to hang out at the temple just as he did. But he didn’t stay there. Why are we still in the temple? My faith has been crippled because I refuse to leave the safety and comfort of the temple.
In Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity, Jen Hatmaker talks about how God finally revealed to her that she was “serving saved people and blessing the blessed.” Well, crap, Jen. Why ya gotta call me out like that, friend?
So it’s time for a little perspective shift. Since I am thirty and all.
In my teens my question was “How can my church serve me?”
In my twenties it became a little more sacrificial with “How can I serve my church?”
But maybe a mature thirty-year-old question might be, “How can I take the Jesus I learn about in church (and all that he offers) to the unchurched?”
The point is, it’s time to get out of the temple. It’s time to stop talking about Jesus. It’s time to stop learning about Jesus. It’s time to stop studying about Jesus. Because what’s the point if it STOPS THERE? The whole point is to do something with all that knowledge.
It’s time to actually step out of my comfort in faith and BE Jesus.