by Rev. Brandon Dirks
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Jesus, John 10:10b
The goal of faith is to be happy.
Good people go to heaven when they die.
God wants people to be nice.
Sounds kind of boring. And, it is all a lie. If this is what we have reduced the Christian life to, and if this is what people see from Christians, then no wonder people are leaving the church in droves! And…it’s our fault!
Kenda Creasy Dean wrote in her amazing book, Almost Christian, why teenagers practice this moralistic, feel-good, keep God at arm’s length, watered-down, boring faith, “Not because they have misunderstood what we have taught them in church…they practice it because this is what we have taught them in church.”
We follow a God who is anything but boring and predictable…but we often live our Christian life that way. Jesus loved recklessly, taught passionately, pushed back the religious boundaries, touched the untouchable, welcomed the outcast, knew the stranger. Jesus was shocking, daring, revolutionary. Jesus was dangerous….but, nice?
As Living Proof Disciples of Jesus, is our church considered a dangerous place where someone might warn, “You better watch out! If you go in there, your life will get changed!”? Or, is our church considered a warm, comfortable, safe place?
Maybe we’ve confused the expressions of faith with the goal of faith. There is nothing wrong with being good, nice and happy…but that is not the point of faith. That’s the point of the American dream, but not God’s dream. God’s dream is to transform the world into the astonishing, surprising, loving kingdom of God.
Jesus promised people the abundant life. Not just in one transformational moment. But everyday. Every moment. Dripping with possibilities. Life-transforming. Life-changing. How did the abundant life become confused with people seeking to simply be happy, good, nice—boring?
I was reminded of this when Andrea Ragsdale, our Director of Youth Missions and Outreach, brought a provocative question to a recent team meeting. She simply asked, “What does the abundant life that Christ offers us look like and when did you last live it?”
I had to really think and search. Have I gotten so focused on living my life that I have forgotten to live the life Jesus promised? Have I forgotten that Jesus promises that life with him fills every moment with possibility, adventure and astonishment? Have I turned into a boring Christian?
Have we become too comfortable? Our faith too convenient? Our lives too easy? If this is what Jesus meant by the abundant life, I don’t want any part of it. We have forgotten what it felt like when we first fell in love with Jesus, when we lived on the edge of our comfort zone…when we trusted God with our next steps, our futures, our relationships, our wallets.
You see, following Jesus frees us from the fears of being embarrassed, unusual, out of the ordinary. After all, if you are following Jesus—the world will call you different, abnormal, weird. Maybe we should wear our weirdness like a badge of honor. Maybe if someone isn’t calling you weird because of your faith, maybe you aren’t living it right.
If your Christian life has become boring, I have a simple solution for you—move your faith to the edge. Re-read the things Jesus calls us to do…and pick one…and DO IT. The edge of everyone’s comfort zone is different, but you know you are near it when your first instinct is, “I don’t want to do it, I may look foolish, I don’t have the time.” Boring. Boring. Boring. Here are a few ideas to get you started, but I hope you come up with ones on your own that really push your boundaries:
- Pray for your meals when you eat out.
- Ask your restaurant server what you could pray about before you bless your meal.
- Read a chapter of the Bible every day.
- Visit a prison, hospital, nursing home, homeless shelter, mental health facility—wherever society has placed people on the margins.
- Wear your church name tag all day.
- Fast from your cell-phone, Facebook, computer for 24 hours.
- Join a new small group…or start a new one of people who don’t go to church!
- Tip 100% of the bill, and leave a note of prayer.
- Tithe 10% of your weekly income at the next worship service.
Add ideas you have tried below…