I once was driving my car, on my way to the store. I remember leaving my house and all of a sudden, I was in our church parking lot. I had made the trip so many times from my house to the office that I just ended up there. I felt kind of silly when I realized what I had done. It was like I had been asleep (Let’s hope not) or in another world for the last 20 minutes.
For a lot of us, I think that describes much of life. We are on auto-pilot. We are not thinking. We are not looking at the implications of some of our decisions. We are just moving along. We are moving through the day not really thinking about what we are doing.
Kind of a dangerous way to live. Isn’t it? Or maybe not. Maybe mindless living actually takes away the risk, the adventure, and the edge from life. I see this on a lot of fronts.
Familiarity becomes not only comfortable but it becomes a given–something we can’t imagine being without.
- Of course I’m going to do basically the same thing every day
- Of course I’m going to do my work in basically the same way
- Of course I’m going to take the same route to the office
- Of course I’m going to wear what I would normally wear
- Of course I’m going or the same thing at the restaurant
- Of course I’m going to settle for the status quo
On and on. It is no wonder some people start talking about getting old when they reach 40.
Unfortunately, many, many churches take the same approach. We set up far to many "givens" and then try to figure out how to do it better. This is like a family who goes to the same place for vacation every year. Every year they go to the Smokey Mountains. One day a family member says, "We are in a rut with this vacation! Let’s do something different this year." The other family members (after some defensiveness) then say, "OK let’s do something different. How can we have a better trip to the Smokies than we have ever had before."
That is exactly the way far to many of us approach church life. "Let’s see how we can do what we do better. Let’s really get creative. Let’s do what we are doing better than we have ever done it before." Yet, we are still thinking in terms of an institution that has it’s work and it’s members. Not don’t think I’m just talking about other people. I’m saying that I am right in the middle of this kind of thinking. I see some of this in myself.
Yet, Jesus doesn’t seem to be boring. He doesn’t sound boring. His life is anything but boring. In Acts, the stories of his earliest followers are anything but boring. There are stories of risk, adventure, and life on the edge. This life on the edge happens because they have yielded control of their lives (and churches) to God.
I don’t have all the answers but I do know where to begin.
We need to begin with what is most important in life.
What is that? Jesus says that the first and second greatest commandments are loving God and loving people (Mark 12:28-34). He speaks of the "weightier matters of the law" like "justice, mercy, and faith" (Mt. 23:23). Somehow, I want to travel lighter and leaner. I want to get back to the essence of what it means to be a Christ follower who is learning to live in relationship with other Christ followers in my little corner of the earth. That is a good place to begin…