Written by: Amy Dalke
You and I…we know church, right? We have been in Bible studies; we’ve served on committees, and we’ve been on mission trips. You may even be a career Christian, having grown up in the church from childhood, when attendance was not your choice. (As a pastor’s child, I totally get you.)
Here’s the deal: I’ve been there and done that, and still come up short.
Am I the only one?
I have lived with a growing tension for the last year and a half, which I can best describe as a nagging awareness that my faith was missing a piece or two. Memorizing verses and teaching Sunday school wasn’t winning enough Jesus points to fill my aching soul.
This plaguing tension drove me to beg Jesus to show me what I was missing.
I began to realize that I had become way too comfortable with my lot in life: possessions were security blankets; career was my identity; and my lifestyle was neatly docked in the middle of a comfortable Christianity. I basically didn’t need much from Jesus.
Which…was the issue.
I just finished a book called Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker (see the box quote above), which helped me name this prevalent tension going on inside of me. Through my uncomfortable comfort, I realized that the missing piece to my faith…was Jesus. Wow.
How could that be?
In a nutshell, my faith was limited to morning quiet times and Sunday morning services, neither of which require much God-power. Christianity was a well-worn title, but the Gospel didn’t affect my daily life.
But though this faith of mine had grown mushy and weak by lack of use, there is an increasing, desperate yearning within me to live into the true call of the Gospel.
I still can’t quite articulate the weight of my heart over this self-crisis, but here’s the highlight reel of how God has begun to wreck my small faith as I’ve known it:
Interruption #1: If our lives are just a churched-up version of the cultural norm…something is missing in our faith. Would anyone describe you and me as different, or are we really just suburbanite, American dream-chasers like everyone else in our cushy corner of the globe? Can others see the work of the Gospel in our lives, or is that part only put on for Sundays?
Jesus was radical; his lifestyle, unselfish. His friends…well, they wouldn’t necessarily be called high society types. On the other hand, I am generally content to let Jesus do the unbecoming stuff (hanging with the bottom rung folks and what-not) while I just talk and write about Him from a safe distance.
The Jesus kind of faith is found when we are so caught up in living the Gospel, that our needs and wants pale in comparison to the rich joy of pouring ourselves into others.
Interruption #2: In order for God’s kingdom to come, our little kingdoms have to go. I’ve spent my life climbing the ladder, hustling to acquire more, clawing to secure my status at the top. Such is the way of the our culture: the more we get, the more unsatisfied we become; the higher we rise, the more stressed out we are. We are addicted to possessions, and consumed with the need to cling to them for dear life.
Jesus told us to “take the lowest place” (Luke 14:10); and proclaimed, “Blessed is the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) Could it be that He wanted us to find him there at the bottom?
While I work on conquering my ego, there are billions fighting poverty and life-threatening hunger every day. Jesus was a fan of the underdog, so I can’t help but think how His heart must ache when I pay more attention to a broken nail than to his broken people. (This isn’t a knock on manicures. I love them, frankly. So please don’t write to the pastor saying the Monday blogger has gone off the chain, declaring manicures are sinful.)
Interruption #3 “Church is not a place you go – it’s a people you belong with. The building is simply the place where you celebrate God together.” (Jen Hatmaker, Interrupted, page 207)
I’ve been writing about this all summer, a sign to me that my obsession about this issue is not merely the OCD focus of the week. (Remember the post about the church coffee bar?)
We are a people called by God to live out the Gospel wherever we are. The office, kitchen table, and the produce section at Kroger have as much sacred potential as our favorite pew, because we carry around within us the very life of Christ. Some people may never step within the walls of a church building, but you can bet they’re forming an opinion of Jesus by the way we live.
So what do they see? Who do they see?
I’m aching to stop doing church, and to start being the church. I so long to see the the Body of Christ rise up to love this generation toward Jesus; to go to them where they are, and to redefine their perception of God. Because, dear Church, the world can’t help but want Jesus when they see who He really is reflected in us.
I am not an authoritative theologian, nor am I a church staff member proposing a new agenda. (I’m neither of those things, in either fake or real life.) What you’ve got in me is just a friend who will mess up 64% of the time along this bumpy walk of faith. But I’ll keep attempting to navigate the tension between the Bible and my life…because we have one spin on this earth – one precious life to live – and I don’t want His glory to go to waste in me!
Perhaps my words resonate with your own inner discontent, and you’d be willing to join me in pursuit of a faith that shows up in how we live.
What would your life look like if you let Jesus interrupt your comfortable Christianity?
The Blogger Who Created Nail Salon Uproar,
p.s. if you’re interested in reading Interrupted, follow the image on the right hand side of this page to Jen’s website. (The book, however, is not required for a Jesus-wrecked life. Obviously.)