This note is for those who have doubts, who have struggles, who have fears and questions; and for those who have been left behind from their faith communities because their thoughts and views are considered to be taboo, heretical, lofty, or just plain crazy. Maybe together we can discover a new depth to our faith…maybe, together in our journey we will find that there is more to God than we have ever imagined.
For many, the Christian faith has become equivalent with leading a moral lifestyle, a lifestyle which is rooted in 1950 America. Faith is less about adventure, conflict, and freedom and more about pious abstinences; such as abstaining from alcohol, controlling the radio station and popular music, and removing ourselves from anything or anyplace that bears any semblance to a secular culture. This is not a new concept or habit, but has been lived out from the foundations of organized religion…and it’s even found within the pages of scripture. (Isaiah and Matthew both record such encounters).
While this may seem like a harmless practice, and may even have some roots in good intentions, the fact remains that those who buy into this system of faith are completely missing the point of the Jesus life. To reduce faith to a culturally moral lifestyle is to remove Jesus from the equation in two ways: (1) I can lead a moral lifestyle without God’s counsel, intervention, or discipline, and (2) this reduction automatically makes the teaching of Jesus elementary at best, and irrelevant at worst.
There is within us all a hunger to taste a grand scheme to life. All of us have a yearning for life to be effective – for our breaths to make a difference, our hands to create a lasting thing, our minds to produce lasting results – all to say that our lives have not been merely lived out, but that they have been experienced, important, and meaningful. The message of Jesus while on this earth was a direct relation to that yearning. His message was there is more to this life than just existing. There is more to religion than just ritual, tradition, and new styles of worship. There is more to sin than just doing something bad. There is more to forgiveness than just a relieved feeling in our guts. There is more to sacrifice than just giving something up. There is more to relationships than just surface level conversations. There is more to conflict than just arguments. There is more to compassion than just mission trips and service projects. There is more to holiness than abstinence.
The message that sentenced Jesus to death, the message that brought humiliation to the dark forces when Jesus arose from the dead is: There….is….so….much….more.
There is so much more because there is God. The King has come and made His home among the dying. He is here. He is present. And He is able.
So then, the answer for those who are entrapped in the ritual of their tradition, the answer isn’t to quit or find a new one, but rather to awaken their hearts to a new perception and understanding of their Creator. The answer for churches who are struggling and declining in this new season isn’t to create new programs and logos, but to journey together into a new understanding of the Father and His dream for creation. The answer for the searching unbeliever isn’t to just join a faith community in the hopes that a magical transformation will alleviate all their fears, doubts, and concerns, but instead the answer is to authentically pursue God and follow His leading.
May we all awaken to the glory of God in such a way that we are completely satisfied in only Him.