Before you head out on this Memorial Day weekend, here are three things that I have read and been thinking about his week. Hope they are as helpful and challenging for you as they have been for me. Have a great weekend!
I learned that faith isn’t about knowing all of the right stuff or obeying a list of rules. It’s something more, something more costly because it involves being present and making a sacrifice.Love Does by Bob Goff and Donald Miller
Holiness is less about a list of rules and more about a relationship of love. If we follow rules we may or may not get a loving relationship. If we commit to a loving relationship, I believe that we will find ourselves living in a way that closely resembles the rules. Motive is the biggest difference between the two. One way is based on “should” the other is based on “want”. I should do this vs. I want to do this. They may result in the same actions being taken, but the internal results will be drastically different over time. Living on “should” creates bitterness and burnout. Living on “want” grows our compassion and can be done forever.
Is there a place for “should”s? You bet. It helps to form us early in our journey to have clearly defined dos and don’ts. But in time, the “should” turns into a “want” as our relationship grows.
“The general human failing is to want what is right and important, but at the same time not to commit to the kind of life that will produce the action we know to be right and the condition we want to enjoy. This is the feature of human character that explains why the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We intend what is right, but we avoid the life that would make it reality.”The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard
It is not enough to know what is right, we must do it. How many people know that eating clean whole foods is “right” and then grab the Twinkie package? (finger pointing toward myself!)
Jesus never said, “accept me into your heart” but rather “follow me” to a place that includes a cross. Not just belief but practicing the belief is what the book of James tells us is the key. But it is difficult! Following Jesus is filled with decisions that to the world look foolish (forgive those who hurt you is a great example) and even internally may feel costly. It is not the fruit that seems unappealing of a life in Christ…it is the lifestyle that produces it that is often found too unappealing and therefore left untried.
So do you want to make culture? Find a community, a small group who can lovingly fuel your dreams and puncture your illusions. Find friends and form a family who are willing to see grace at work in one another’s lives, who can discern together which gifts and which crosses each has been called to bear. Find people who have a holy respect for power and a holy willingness to spend their power alongside the powerless.Culture Making by Andy Crouch
This is one of the clearest descriptions of the power of community and especially a church community. It describes the possibilities of our lives being lived in truth, in grace, in hope, in discernment, with purpose and with sacrifice.
The first key is our willingness to give ourselves to one another in such a way that we are known by others. Time and Transparency. The second part is a willingness to hear from others in such a way that offers opportunities for change and new perspectives. Humility and Courage to accept help.
If you are not finding God impacting your life through church, it very well may be the church you attend. Or, perhaps, and more likely, it is your willingness to engage. Part-time convenience based church involvement is insufficient to develop the type of community that feels like family, acts like family, and perseveres like family.
Church is time consuming. It is messy. It is not perfect.
And it is worth it all of it.