Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Caged Christianity

A while back I posted a blog explaining how I was in a season of "Holy discontent" and was so dissatisfied with where I was in my Christian experience. I'd love to tell you that I've moved on from that but it just wouldn't be true. I'm more discontented than ever! You see, lately I've been asking myself some tough questions as I look in the 'mirror' of God's word. It sort of feels like looking in an actual mirror after I've slacked off working out for a few weeks because of a hectic schedule but I haven't slacked off 'stuffing my face' with my favorite chocolates and pastries. I absolutely despise the reflection that looks back at me from the mirror, and it motivates me to do something drastic. Those are the times in which I'm more motivated than ever to get back on my bike, get back in the gym, and do whatever else it takes to ensure that the line of sight down to my feet is not obstructed by a 'hanging' gut.

With all of these questions circulating around my cerebral cortex, I'm distilling the vital from the irrelevant and identifying the questions that need to be answered the most, such as:
  • What would it look like if we stopped "doing" church and "become" the church?
  • Is it possible that, as pastors we are so busy pastoring churches we've forgotten to pastor the people?
  • Who determined the blue print for what church should look like on a Sunday, and does that work for me and my community?
  • What would it look like if we actually took Jesus at His word, and radically loved and served people regardless of their beliefs?
  • Could I potentially miss a divine opportunity to walk intimately with Jesus, having 'kept' all the 'rules' of 'good' Christianity just like the Rich young ruler did?

I guess I really want to see Jesus glorified in me and through me, and I can't help feeling that there's something missing. I wonder if I'm living in a cage when I should actually be living in the 'wild' adventure of pursuing God with everything I have no matter what that looks like. I certainly empathize with a 400 pound gorilla trapped in a cage in the zoo. You see, he can never live the life he was created to live, trapped behind bars 24/7. In order for a gorilla to "be all that he was meant to be" he must live in the wild and explore every instinct and tendency he was born with. It's no different for the christian. We can choose to live staid, caged lives, or we can throw ourselves in with reckless abandon against all reasoning. If Peter hadn't done that, he would never have walked on water (even though as a fisherman, he knew men didn't walk on water). If Andrew hadn't done that he would never have witnessed the miracle of feeding 5000 men with five loaves of bread and two fish. Just think what the rich young ruler missed out on. Jesus actually gave him the opportunity to become one of his disciples(Mark 10: 17-22), and he turned it down for the safety of the cage of 'financial security.' What's my cage? well... while I'm figuring that out, you might want to find out what's yours!


Ash said...

This is a good post. And you're right, I think each one of us have to wrestle w/ these things at times and it's good.

~C said...

I think we are in an ever-constant struggle with human-doing versus human-being.

I was talking to a friend today about how I tend to get distracted with the tangents and rabbit trails that inevitably follow the pursuit of an original goal. My creative mind and bent gets excited about little things and my innate high standards are always wanting better and more. I was telling her how I'm constantly in a "battle" to bring myself back to the center: the original and core things that make me who I am and make my life peaceful, empowered, and beautiful. Those core things being meaningful relationships with people and with my God.

EVERYTHING else comes out of those things! Every other priority should stem from those two things. There IS nothing else more meaningful than those and when I abandon them for some other pursuit, I am always the worse for it.

All of that to say that I think my cage is one of performance: I get trapped into performing whatever I am doing to the best of my ability and quickly lose sight of the the things that enabled me to do so in the first place. My performance becomes top priority instead of the relationships that built me to that level in the first place.

Relationship first. Human-being first. God first. Everything else follows - and without me having to do anything to make it do so.

Joseph said...

Ashley, thanks for your input. I guess the wrestling continues! :)

C, thanks for being so honest and vulnerable. I'm learning that the key to overcoming our weaknesses begins with the honesty to admit them.

Anonymous said...

I believe that a downfall that we all suffer from is the inability to listen. Yes, Peter and Andrew got to do the impossible or witness the impossible. But They also knew how to sit at Jesus' feet and listen. They not only listened but decoded the message that was in a parable form so that others wouldn't be able to understand it.

I am not sure if I am explaining this well. Please forgive me if I don't make sense or I ruffle feathers.

I think that some of the caged feeling is from not being able to stop the questions running around in your head. How can you hear God? I think that it is harder for Pastor's to turn the voice off because you are expected to not only talk but to answer the hard questions.

You may feel frustrated by this feeling that you are missing something. I think that you are forgetting to see what the Lord is doing through you. You weild an amazing strength and authority in your community that you don't realize.

Take a deep breath. Silence your head. Try sitting at Jesus' feet for a bit. Let the Lord refresh you. It really does help.

I have added you to my prayer list and I pray that you feel uncaged soon.

Joseph said...

Theresa, thanks for your insight. I hear your counsel and appreciate and indeed value your prayers. Ultimately, we are each responsible to fulfill what we believe God has called us to be and to do, and so my feelings of dissatisfaction with where I am in my spiritual walk are as legitimate for me as they feel, regardless of whatever else I may be doing to positively affect people's lives. :)