This afternoon, I am going to hear Fred Craddock speak at Baylor University’s Truett Seminary. Fred Craddock is not only one of my favorite preachers but has been someone from whom I have learned a great deal. Several years ago, while he was still teaching at Emory University, I took a one week preaching seminar with him and another fine preacher, Thomas Long. That week would have a positive impact on my preaching for many years.
Fred Craddock, in particular, has been helpful to many people in learning how to communicate to people who have heard it all before. Perhaps these people grew up in church and are very familiar with much of the Bible. (Yes, I realize that it is possible to grow up in church and be very unfamiliar with much of the Bible.)
As a Christ-follower, sometimes things get a little too familiar. A person can "settle in" with the Bible and the things of God and just get used to it all. I can get used to all of this and lose something.
- The Bible becomes familiar.
- Church culture becomes familiar.
- Sacred moments like baptism and the Lord’s supper become familiar.
- Words — important words — become familiar.
- The Christian story becomes familiar.
Anything wrong with familiarity? No. But, I might want to wave a yellow caution flag at this point. (Or, maybe someone else should wave it while I try to pay attention to it as well.) What I can easily do is reduce following Jesus to the familiar. In very subtle ways, I begin to lose any sense of a childlike faith.
This is what I don’t want to lose.
I don’t want to lose the dynamic of following Jesus every day in the ordinary moments of my life. I want to still be drawn to Jesus much as a husband is still drawn to his bride after thirty years of marriage. I want to keep Jesus before me as one who will lead me on an adventure through life. I want to hold on to a simple, trusting faith even as I continue to gain more knowledge and awareness of him.
Many years ago, C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity:
This is why the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and fretting; coming in out of the wind.
We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain, which soaks right through.