Thursday, June 11, 2009

What I Want (or a really quick way to end a series that was going in circles)

I’ve been working off and on, on this proposed series for what seems an eternity. It’s kind of been an exercise in futility, in the sense that what I was coming up with for the blog was in essence what I had been writing for my proposed book and I was struggling with how to keep things separate…it wasn’t working so well.

I had a piece on indifference and not making Jesus throw up (Rev 3:16), one on the seemingly counterintuitive, unbiblical, un-Christlike fascination the church has with “leadership” (Isaiah’s prophecies on the “servant”, as well as Christ’s own words on the subject ((Mark 9:35)), one very cool piece about sports (this one may yet make an appearance in some form), one about convincing minds with endless classes, programs, or campaigns to garner a desired outcome, rather than transforming hearts and allowing God to do His work, and then the final piece.

They’re all written to one degree of completion or another, but in blog form, it just wasn’t working for me. In some ways it came off as pretentious and self righteous. And let’s face it, those are two things the world and the church needs a whole lot less of. Beyond that, I wasn’t going to tell any of you, anything you didn’t already know. Another problem with the church today? We’re real good at identifying problems, but not so great at addressing them and finding solutions. We’re all too often content with simply having determined/deciphered/discerned that there is a problem. Kind of like I’m doing right now, huh?

So, as I type this, I find myself faced with two questions…What do you want? What is the solution?

What do I want? I want passion and excitement. I want to be able to look upon Christians and immediately know that they are different without them having to open their mouths. I want their light and joy to blind me, I want to feel it, I want to be moved by it. I want to feel that something in me leap with excitement at that something in them.

I am so tired of this timid, politically correct, watered down “religion” that permeates the church today. I don’t want to hear about or read anymore books that essentially boil down to the easy way out…and if I do see/hear anymore, would someone please, I beg of you, point out to me in scripture where we were promised an easy go of it in this life? I want to see Christians that are moved and excited by the Bible and Christ, not the likes of The Shack and Rob Bell. I want to see Christians that truly know what it is they purport to believe and then are capable of executing those beliefs in a Biblical, Christ-like manner.

I want to see Christians that aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves, that aren’t afraid to get a little dirty. I want to see Christians embrace the sick, the poor, the dirty, the undesirable, and the unlovable. I want to see Christians that aren’t afraid to sacrifice time, money, pride, dignity, sleep (among many others) and most of all comfort, in the name of serving their Lord and Savior and their fellow man, whether they be Christian or not. I want to see Christians loving those in and those of the world. If you want someone in the church, love them there. Don’t scare or damn them there. Did Christ operate this way?

I want to see Christians that understand the concept of joyful obedience. I want to see Christians that understand it is not our job to hold the world accountable, but rather each other. It never ceases to amaze me how badly we mess this up, by doing the exact opposite. I want to see Christians that aren’t only so in name or one day a week. I want to see Christians that are such 24/7, that are constantly, instinctively looking for a way to make a positive difference. I believe we are afforded only so many opportunities to truly make a difference in the lives of others…how many did you miss today? Do you even know?

I don’t want to hear Christians whine anymore of needing to be “fed” or simply not being “fed” at their church. If you’re mature enough to understand and recognize that you are not being spiritually “fed”…FEED YOURSELF! Better yet, FEED OTHERS! Do you need to be spoon fed your entire spiritual life? When do you transition from starving to provider? I can guarantee you there is plenty of spiritual nourishment in “feeding” others. (With that said, that is another one of those overused words/concepts that has been used and abused for far too long “spiritually fed”…please make it go away)

I want to see Christians that understand that the church is not a building; it is each and every one of you. You are the church and you take it with you wherever you go. Would you treat people the same at church as you do at work, the store, in traffic? You do. Speaking of…

I want to see churches that aren’t afraid to speak what God wants spoken, instead of speaking what they think people want to hear. I want to see churches that aren’t so obsessed with being all things to all people, but rather simply being a place of God, fellowship, and service. I want to see churches that are clique free. I want to see churches united in the basic tenets of our faith. I want to see churches that aren’t afraid to chase from their presence unsound, unbiblical teachings…this is becoming such a huge problem folks and it all goes back to knowing what and why you believe. Don’t proclaim it if you don’t know it, someone just might ask you for an explanation.

I want to see churches that could care less about keeping up with the place down the street, on the other side of town, or on the TV. Is God not a big enough draw? Are all the programs and amenities in the world bigger than God? I want to see churches do away with all these slogans, mottos, and visions. You want a slogan, motto, and vision? Here’s one for all of us, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."…or slogan, motto, or vision. How many of the world’s problems could be solved if this was the “soul” focus of the church?

I want to see churches quit focusing so much on what goes on inside their physical walls and focus on that big, giant, place outside. I would love to see the church function as a place of learning, fellowship, prayer, and healing. By extension of those things, I would really love to see the church function as a once a week rallying point/staging area for Christians to be equipped, prepared, and motivated to boldly take the love of Christ out into the world. I am so sick of hearing it and hearing people talk about it. Do it already!

I want to see pastors full of fire, love, and passion for Christ and the Word. This is not something that can be acted out, or put into a sermon, or spoken behind closed doors. One look into your eyes, one look at the fruits you produce is all that is needed to know if you are in fact genuine.

I want to see more pastors, like I do with lay people, that aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and get a little dirty. I don’t want to hear of them shying away from someone or their problems because they are “messy”. I want to see pastors that aren’t afraid to step into the midst of a storm, that knows what it means to rescue the single lost sheep while the other 99 are accounted for.

I want to see pastors that walk the walk, as well as talk the talk. There’s far too many out there that talk a great game that say all the right things, but never step out from their offices. If you talk it, be prepared to walk it. Give me a great pastor over a preacher any day. Lead by example!

More than anything, laity and clergy alike, I want fire and I want excitement. I want risk takers, people who aren’t afraid to sell out for their faith and their savior. I want to see Christians that look at an impossible situation with a smile and the first question that comes to their minds is, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

I know I’m rambling, but I don’t care. I look at the life of Christ, the disciples, and Paul and I don’t see anything resembling what we have today. I don’t see the pursuits of comforts or riches and I certainly don’t see a fear of speaking the truth, of challenging when there ought to be a challenge, or of loving when they ought to be loving. I see a real fear of not doing those things, of falling short, of not doing justice to God above. They understood. Now is not the time for comfort, for riches, for all of the things we pursue. Our rewards come later; every Christian claims to know this.

The other question I posed was, “What is the solution?” And I just don’t know, but in that, as confusing as it may sound is the solution. All I have to offer? Come find me and we’ll cause all sorts of trouble for the Kingdom.

Start your own spiritual fires. Stop accepting the status quo. Stop accepting the excuses, “That’s every church.” Raise your voice and be heard, “Not here, not now, not my church!” Stop playing and start doing. Take a chance for Christ. Be that fire, you are the light of the world. Quit hiding it and start showing it.