Do you ever find yourself in the midst of a repeating conversation? You know, the sort of thing where you hear the same message over and over again, but from various places. It just so happened, I found myself there again last night, but this time I was with a group of youth, who would have been some of the last people I’d thought would be joining me for the conversation. In hindsight, I’m not sure why I never considered the conversation with ones such as this; none the less there we were.
Let me try and paint the scene for you. It’s half way through the night’s youth small group study and we’re several chapters deep into the book Be The Change by Zach Hunter. We’ve spent the last half hour wading through the chapter on compassion, when I toss out this question…
So what do you guys think about what Zach says at the end of page 82, listen… If we don’t take care of orphans and widows, if we don’t care for the poor and hurting, how can we say we belong to Jesus? Do you agree with that statement, does it bother you, upset you… are you somehow challenged by it? What’s your reaction?
What ensured was some thirty minutes of the most theologically profound, inquisitive, deep diving discussion I’ve had in quite some time with teenagers. All the while we were discussing back and forth, I couldn’t help escape the fact that on more than one occasion now I’ve been confronted with that basic question. Most directly it approached me a month or so back while reading through David Platts’ Radical. But it’s crept up other places as well over the last several months.
Now, I’ve spent a good deal of my life in church, and I don’t recall too many Sunday’s given to this sort of a message. Rather, quite the opposite. It seems that the content of most sermons I’ve heard isn’t to call into question one’s Christianity, but to encourage it. How provocative it is then to suggest that what so many call Christianity, sitting from their pew, may in fact be little more than a falls-short facade.
I would like to hope that rather than find oneself becoming angry at such a statement; one would deeply examine their lives instead. I know the question has certainly caused me to. I asked the teens in the group what they thought would happen if I got up and made such a statement in church. Their response… people would probably become mad and I might even get fired. Harsh. An overstatement perhaps. Yet, I tend to agree with them… at least about the anger part. I’d hope I wouldn’t see myself fired for reading the Bible in church.
My take away thus far in this ongoing conversation I’ve found myself in, as of late, is that I don’t dare become overly comfortable in my religious standing. That’s not to say, that I live in fear or doubt of my salvation or anything like that. But I think there is a danger; or should I say a spiritual apathy that quickly builds up when you begin thinking your current station is all there is; that nothing more should ever be required of you spiritually. Life is a series of callings, and we either accept or reject those calls. Those callings allow for us the chance at great adventure or everyday status quo boredom.
I don’t want to be the one who looks back on their life fifty years from now and regrets having “missed” his calling. I don’t what to settle for good enough, spiritual enough, loving enough, generous enough, godly enough. No. I want to know that I lived a life that left nothing back, that laid it all out on the table in the pursuit of true religion. That’s the sort of life I want to live. That’s the sort of calling I want to answer to. That’s the sort of example I want to be to those teenagers (and others) around that small group circle last night.
But that’s just me. What about you?