Beware of a confrontation you look forward to.
Only confront if it pains you greatly. It is this kind of confrontation that looks like Jesus.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. – Phil. 2:3
The most practical way I have found to live out the challenge above is to be more excited to see another than to be seen.
I used to think of spiritual growth like a treadmill at the gym. I’d constantly glance over to the person jogging next to me to compare my speed with theirs. The goal was to look more impressive than those next to me and to look down on others who were out of shape. Progress and worth was determined by a number I’d rank myself. The experience was almost entirely individualistic. The trouble with this treadmill spirituality is that it is not sustainable. Someday, you’ll want to quit.
A few years ago, I met a friend at a pub where he confessed to me he had cheated on his wife multiple times. My friend was a Christian active in his church and a regular attender at a Bible study.
After a lot of tears, I remember him whispering to me, “I’m just so tired of trying.”
We sat there in silence amid the rubble of his family and marriage and I couldn’t help but think how he just wanted off the treadmill. He self destructed his life so he wouldn’t have to run anymore. He was exhausted with being a number. Comparisons had become too costly. We see this same destructive behavior played out in countless pastors who fail morally and end up front page news. They’re all just searching for a way off the treadmill. Surely, this is not the spiritual life Jesus dreamt for us.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”(1)
This morning I was thinking about the treadmill and my constant two-steps-forward-one-step-back messy spirituality. I was helping my two year old son, Sawyer, put on his clothes for the day while trying to shove an Eggo waffle in his mouth. I put his shirt over his head and then he immediately found the sleeve holes and popped his arms through.
I stopped and exclaimed, “Hey, you found the holes on your own! Nice job buddy!”
He smiled wide with plenty of waffle left in his mouth. We were both so proud of his accomplishment.
The funny thing is, earlier that morning I was woken by my wife because Sawyer had taken off his nighttime diaper and peed the bed. I fumbled my way through changing his sheets and helped Laura get him back to sleep. Although I am a little tired today, I’m not mad at Sawyer at all. After all, he’s just a kid and he’s growing up. Sometimes you find the sleeve holes and sometimes you pee the bed. As his Dad, I wanna celebrate with him when he grows and lovingly help him when he doesn’t. I’m hopeful of the man he will someday become. He’s not a number to me and he doesn’t need to prove anything. He’s just, well… mine. I’m patient in the process because I just enjoy being with him for the journey.
Would you consider getting off the treadmill? Trust me, it doesn’t end well.
Would you consider the same grace that saved you, can also grow you?
When we fall asleep while praying,
When we get distracted while reading the Bible,
When we lose our temper, fall into temptation, or make a mistake,
When we don’t grow as quickly as we’d hope,
Never forget we have a loving Father willing to come in, clean up our mess, and hold us tight.
You. Are. His.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.(2)
1. Matthew 11:28-30
2. Philippians 1:6
How did it happen, that the God who creates the future became represented by a church that preserves the past?
How did it happen that we became the last bastion of the protection of yesterday rather than the epicenter of the creation of tomorrow?
How in the world did we become us rather than the us that Jesus imagined?
The church was never supposed to be known by it’s grip on tradition. The church is supposed to be known for its love for humanity.” -Erwin McManus