They say the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over again expecting different results. I know some of us feel this way about spending time in God's Word. There might be a desire to make a habit of Bible reading and prayer but just don't get around to it or you do it for a while (maybe because you feel like you should) but it just doesn't stick. It can seem like you're trying the same things over again and not seeing any different results. Perhaps it's time to try something different.
This year at Trinity we are wanting to focus on growing as committed followers of Jesus based on the model of Jesus’ original disciples. In the Gospels, we are told that the disciples were with Jesus— they heard him teaching, they saw him heal, they ate with him. The more time the disciples spent with Jesus the more they got to know him, which changed their lives and ministry. The best way for us to spend time with Jesus is by being in his Word which we believe shows us the person of Jesus and helps to shape us into the people Jesus calls us to be.
Many of you have a consistent Bible reading and prayer time that works for you… that is fantastic! Keep it up! Others of us struggle to maintain consistency in the Word or just don’t take the time at all. Here are two things that I have tried recently in my devotional life just as a way of changing things up a bit to keep God’s Word fresh in my life.
Try something different today!
We in the church are pretty good at the ‘soft sell,’ the advertising approach that presents an easy and friendly message in the hope you’ll respond and buy something.
“Grace is free! Come and get it!”
“You’re welcome here and we’ll make no demands on your life.”
“Come as you are to meet new people and get great coffee.”
The church has mastered the soft sell. All the lines are memorized and put out there, just waiting for someone to come along and find us irresistibly cozy and non-demanding. “We want you, no strings attached.” But look around, how is this approach working? We thought that all we had to do was say the things everyone wanted to hear and they would come streaming in our doors.
The fact of the matter is we like to emphasise the privilege of the Gospel without mentioning the responsibility of the Gospel. We emphasise God’s free gift of Jesus Christ for all who believe (which is good and important) but hardly make mention of the fact that we are to be sent out to make more disciples. What results is the misconception that all I have to do is make an intellectual consent to Jesus once in my life and I am automatically heaven bound.
But Christianity is harder than we make it out to be. Absolutely we need to be about the free gift of Jesus for anyone who trusts in him. But that is not where the message is meant to stop. Jesus didn’t just gather a group of people around himself, waited for them to say “I trust you” and then leave them. No! He discipled them, mentored them, shared life with them, and yes, even challenged how they were living and thinking.
We are caught up in making a mental decision for Christ that we aren’t fulfilling the Gospel commission to make disciples, to follow Jesus with our whole lives.
This is the part that the church has been weak on for a long time. We are caught up in making a mental decision for Christ that we aren’t fulfilling the Gospel commission to make disciples, to follow Jesus with our whole lives. We aren't walking with each other, mentoring each other, or challenging each other onward to a Christ-centred life. We’re content to leave people as they are as long as they’ve said ‘yes’ to Jesus. But thanks be to God that Jesus isn’t content to leave us as we are as long as we’ve said ‘yes’ to Jesus. He desires so much more for our lives that we would have an abundant and joyful life with Him even if it doesn’t look like we think it should.
The truth is following Jesus is harder than we make it seem. Everyone in the church (and outside of the church) struggles, has doubts or questions. Can’t we just be truthful and say that Jesus wants more from us than merely a part of our minds, that He wants (and demands) our whole lives? It’s not a popular message, it won’t always make people feel good about themselves, but it is the message that you, I, and the whole world needs to hear. Jesus wants all of you, even all the way to giving up your life for His sake.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” Matt. 16:24-25
Picture: Public Domain, CC0. Text added. Website: http://pixabay.com/en/couch-sofa-settee-furniture-blue-147558/
Pastor J-M shares some occasional thoughts and musings on our life together as followers of Christ. The views are his own.