I have lately become aware of the many metaphors that we use to describe our lives and also our interpretation of scripture. And I must admit with a certain amount of chagrin that I have been a person who has read books and scripture looking for recipes and formulas to follow that will ensure my success.
My question today is what formula or recipes are we trying to follow as it pertains to our understanding of the Bible that in turn have kept us from a relationship with God through Jesus.
I must say before I begin to open up this thought that I have personally turned a corner in my life after having been in somewhat of a lull/holding pattern following my departure from a church I had been a part of for 22 years. There was a time after leaving when all I could do at night was sit in my chair and wait for the tv to light up—I didn’t have the energy to read or draw or even write very well—though I kept trying to figure things out in order to feel alive.
I have tried to leave the blame for what happened in that church behind me and am not currently involved in thinking about it to much any more. Not that I am fully free from the ramifications of leaving—just that I am no longer consumed by them or by trying to figure it all out.
Most of what I learned from that church was that within Christianity as “we” understood it, even at its most basic level, there was a formula for everything—even to having a relationship with God. It was a basic formula: Get up in the morning and have an extended quiet time with God by praying and reading the word; attend the various gatherings of the church; give your time/tithe and talent to the local body and have a date night with your wife and everything would be fine as wine (this is from a husband’s perspective).
When you fell off the “works” wagon you were expected to get back on it as soon as possible and from that point on I can’t really remember what was required except for living with the feeling that I wasn’t measuring up with whatever it was for the last ten years that I attended. I am trying to be positive here—but I try to call it the way that I see it.
A formula or recipe can best be described as a: procedure to be followed or any fixed or conventional method of doing something—which in and of itself is not a bad thing. But when the procedure itself leads you to a place of thinking that you have something which you don’t, there most certainly is a problem.
In other words, having a relationship with Jesus is a lot more than just following a group of exercises or motions designed to facilitate our human understanding of what this means or otherwise fullfilling a biblical mandate. I am not sure at this time that I completely understand what it means to be a Christian—a follower of Christ—but I am on the trail and know that one day I will be one. Not that I am not one presently—but you know what I mean—I don’t feel fully engaged, captivated or otherwise fully functioning in that role at present.
I guess the bottom line is that we are taught that by believeing whatever it is that the church we attend believes we are in like flynn and in the process of building our house on the rock. Pre-trib, mid-trib or post-trib and all that. What about no trib at all and what does any of that have to do with anything in the meantime.
Wikipedia has at least 33 Christian movements listed on the first page of my google search: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_movements#Religious) which begins with the 24/7 prayer movement and ends with the weak theology movement. I am literally amazed at what there is out there!
And though each of these movements may share some similarities, they all have a definate idea of the way things shoud work and the formulas for how a person is to get to wherever it is that each says we need to go.
Back in the day we had to have special speakers come into the church in order to let us know that God still loved us even though we didn’t read our bibles every day. Then John Eldridge said basically the same thing in one of his books and is now doing alright for himself as an author. I used to think that smoking an occasional cigar and having a relationship with God was mutually exclusive—you can’t have them both. Not that smoking a cigar is something that we should aspire to but my thought was that when I smoked a cigar I was in reality telling God to go someplace else for about a half an hour and I would get back to him when I was finished. He may or may not approve of my choice but I have come to understand that if Jonah couldn’t get away from God in the belly of a whale, He is probably not going anywhere when I light up from time to time.
To that end I have taken to inviting Him along when I take a bike ride—yes I still pray out loud for protection and that He would cover my trip with His angels—who wants to fall off a bike at thrity miles a hour—but it is more a beginning of an understanding that He is there anyway—so I might just as well take full advantage of the moment. If He wants to speak to me in that time I am open to it and I believe that I have my ears and heart open.
I guess it boils down to understanding that God accepts us and then accepting ourselves in the process of becoming whatever it is we were created to become. Yes we need to read the bible and pray and look for opportunities to serve but all that should be generated from a heart engaged in a relationship with the creator of the universe and not as a method to get anyone’s favor or to gain some points that we can cash in when we get to heaven.
I suspect that other poeple have said what I have just tried to verbalize in more understandiable and concise terms—but this is the ride that I am on today—tomorrow I will know more and love more.
But today has enough stuff going on as it is.