Christian Discipleship 7

I was captivated by Peterson’s chapter on perseverance, and then flipped to the chapter on obedience and was drawn in even more. I once fell really hard on my head while skateboarding alone with some friends at a skate park. I remember intensely calling out to God in my mind as I lay on the ground paralyzed by the shock and pain of the accident. In this moment of fear, God was the one thing on my mind because I didn’t want to hurt anymore. Peterson told a story about a man in a hospital who cried out for him to pray to him when he was in a lot of pain, and even when he was hallucinating and afraid. This man, like many people, thought of religion as something to help him with his fears. He wasn’t interested in Peterson’s prayers when he first got to the hospital and was feeling mostly all right. Religion has become this false cliché which is all about a God who only shows up in the midst of crazy moments and pain, but is idle and blurry when all is green and seems to be going just fine. As a matter of fact, the most religious places in the world, as Peterson said, are not churches but battlefields and hospitals. We, as children of God, need to be radical about Jesus. We need to be passionate about the Kingdom of God. Perhaps the most powerful lesson is having people watch you live your life. People watched Jesus live ordinarily and it transformed their lives. So, I think the first step of reconciling this world is to first reconcile our personal ways of living, so that we can be accurate examples of the radical Jesus we are in relationship with.

Peterson’s chapter on perseverance resonated with me because I’ve constantly had something in my life that needed to be overcome. Whether it be the loneliness as a result of losing my friends due to my newfound Christian faith way back in middle school, or the insomnia that was slowly killing me all throughout high school. But, I know Jeremiah 29:11 well. I’ve recited it a trillion times to help me persevere and trust that the God I live for knows what He’s doing. The way in which one handles failure says a lot about that person and their relationship with God and ability to persevere. I know we can’t be perfect. We don’t even know what perfect is, but the endurance of our faith isn’t up to us, which is why we can keep going. The tragedy is losing faith. I never want to lose faith in God. I only want to grow in my belief that the Holy Spirit knows what’s happening to me and is allowing it to continue for a good reason. God would rather me be angry with Him than ignore Him, so I will continue to pray and rejoice in the joy that my life is in the hands of an almighty God rather than mine which will grow tired, and in fact, they already have.

Christian Discipleship 6

Lately I’ve been stepping out of my body and looking at my life and the decisions I make wondering what I’m really after with my life. Can I truly trust Jesus with my life? Do my choices reflect a strong faith in Christ? I don’t know yet. Most of us spend a lot of time sleeping, but we don’t want to be sleeping people. I think it’s our actions that form us the most, which is why I think there’s truth to the saying “fake it till you make it.” In terms of spirituality, however, I think you need to believe before you can even begin to fake it productively because what’s the purpose of not really having faith in Christ but pretending you do? That’s called lukewarm Christianity and should be avoided at all costs. Mind you, I’m not being hypocritical.

I used to hate the idea of church because it seemed to me to be one giant reflection on the Jesus of Israel. I didn’t see the point. I was born in 1992. I was looking for a modern breed of Christianity, and I suppose I’m still very much interested in hearing about the activity of the Holy Spirit now and what God can do for me. I would submit that the reason why the churches in the west don’t do a good job of mobilizing the people of God is because we like to call the shots. Too often the church isn’t concerned with the Holy Spirit. I don’t think we really believe that God is here and now. But the fact is that God is no less near to us than He was two thousand years ago. I think it’s because we can’t physically see Jesus’ eyes that we unconsciously put the reality of the Holy Spirit on top of our heads rather than under our feet to act as the foundation for our lives and every decision we make. Ultimately, your faith should determine your works.  Truthfully, I set huge machines in motion to arrive nowhere. So, if faith is revealed in the choices you make, in the way you live your life, then am I faithful? This is a good question to be asking.

I learned this week that God is not in our control. Again, this seems like common sense like I say each week, but I rarely think about this. To be honest, it’s rather annoying. I wish I could tell God what to do. Well, that’s not entirely true. I do tell God what to do sometimes, if not explicitly, then I think it at times. I’ll pray like a good person and pretend in front of God and in front of myself that I am surrendering myself completely to His will, but I know that’s not true. There’s something wrong here, and personally, I believe it comes back to what we believe about Jesus. Jesus said that it was for our benefit that He was going away. He was bound to His body, but His spirit has no boundaries. The Holy Spirit doesn’t have to bother with the messy human confounds. This means that God is one hundred percent present in the world. This changes everything if you understand it for it’s worth, and I’m not saying I’m even close to understanding it fully. We see in Jesus that God’s work was and is reconciliation through Christ. Thus, we all have the same vocation, which is to be disciples of Jesus and reconcile the world. That seems simple enough. You can’t really miss your calling. And, with this, I re-enter my body and ask myself what is a good decision, the best choice I could make in terms of where I direct my time that will bring about the Kingdom of God because, after all, I rest my faith in what is now the Holy Spirit.

 

Christian Discipleship 5

It’s not about me. Nothing is about me. Everything should be about Jesus. Is it discipleship that we really want? I think that way too often, at least for me, Jesus becomes a means to an end rather than the end in itself. This has been my big revelation this week, not that I have an epiphany each week.

Honestly, I’ve been after a lot lately, like comfort, happiness, girls, and sunny days. You know how it is. Happiness stands out to me in that list. When I wake up in the morning, is it really God I am after? Usually, it’s not. Rarely, do I get up out of my bed and pray that God would slap me in the face and point me in the right direction that day towards the fulfillment of His will. What I really want is to be happy. I don’t really care how it happens. I just don’t want to worry anymore. Why do I worry? Why am I sad? I’m confident that the majority of the answer to these questions has to do with flaws within myself rather than external troubles, which is reason enough to wake up seeking Christ rather than selfish desires. If we follow Jesus first, He’ll reveal His true nature to us. But, if we follow anything other than Jesus, then we’ll be led to something other than Him and fall deeper and deeper into this world, which is never good— I would know.

Something else I learned this week is how God doesn’t change His mind. He desires reconciliation in this world. When I think of this, I am immediately reminded of all the enemies in my life, and I realize that the nature of my soul has way too much to do with them. I let them rule me rather than lift them up to God. We need to pray that God will show us how He sees our enemies that we are angry with or feel awkward around. Ultimately, it won’t be their departure from our lives that will take them out of the equation; it will be them no longer being our enemies anymore that will be our internal peace. It’s reconciliation. Our enemies are weak people in need of mercy just like us. It’s too easy for me not to like people because I feel much safer when I’m alone. But, God is a relational God and we are called to be relational with people as Jesus was to everyone two thousand years ago. To me, being in relationship with people means being vulnerable and that has never appealed to me. I have to be utterly honest and say not many people seem qualified to take on my life. I enjoy pretending I’m the best kept secret. I don’t want to be found out by people. I like keeping God to myself and pretending I have more wisdom than everyone else, but I’m really just as confused about my life as anyone else is. I’m still struggling to find my way in this chaotic world.

I’ve known for a very long time that I am extremely exclusive and have a hard time reaching out to people that think differently than me and disagree with what I believe. I do a pretty bad job at mediating God to all people. The problem is that the best listeners, as I’ve seen it, are not the people of this world, they are the socks in my dresser, they are the birds in the trees, they are the stars in the night sky, they are the angels in heaven. I forget that Jesus welcomed all kinds of people into His life and indentified with them. He went far out of His way to love us. So, each day before I go out the door, I pray that God will be my everything. I pray that He would make me a light unto the world that day because I have the hardest time stepping out of my comfort zone and being a disciple in this world.  Part of being in an intimate relationship with God is going to bed in the rain and waking up green. It’s Jesus that renews us. And, thus, it’s all about Jesus, not me. If I want to get anywhere in this life, I need to seek the one eternal thing, that being Christ. Knowing this, it’s not happiness I’m after (happiness is temporary), but I’m learning to desire joy, which is eternal as a consequence of a life of faith.

Christian Discipleship 4

I like to pretend that I’m the best kept secret.

I’m not.

Jesus reads us similarly to a lectio divina, except He knows our circumstances already and knows what we feel inside. This amazes me because so much of my life has been about understanding what it feels like to be something else, to be normal and liked and popular. I wonder how everyone else feels inside. If I knew, it would change everything. I’d probably be a tad more forgiving and loving towards everyone, which is just what God is like. But, I can’t know these things because I’m not God. It puts you in a position of humility and vulnerability to know that we understand so little aside from God. We have to rely on God to be our knowledge and our defender. On the topic of defense, it came to my attention, once again, that the best way to defeat enemies is to pray for them. But, more importantly, you don’t defeat them because they wither up and die, you defeat them because they are no longer your enemy. God will expand your compassion for them. I tend to forget that God loves the world, not just me, not just Seattle. If we don’t know that, we don’t know God. It’s an era of distraction. It’s always in virtue to further develop our compassion. I think becoming more globally conscious of what’s going on in the world will help with out with that. If you want a soft heart, you need to expose yourself to needs.

I’ve been thinking about these papers lately, and it reminds me of high school (in a good way). I distinctly remember staying up all hours of the night to finish writing papers on matters I could care less about, like analyzing literature classics and bizarre poems for English. I don’t remember the grade I got on any specific paper or in the class for that matter, but I do remember the nights I stayed up when I could have been sleeping and strengthening my young bones. I remember the frustration I had with school, feeling like I was being forced into a hole I never wanted to jump into in the first place, but tears don’t come for the asking. I’ve never had a place in my soul for books or for writing papers on those books. I don’t enjoy forced creativity or stressed art. The reason why these weekly reflections remind me of high school is because it’s different now. I have come to accept this part of me. I write for me. I don’t see the need anymore to write for anyone else if the point of school is to prepare the students for the discovery of themselves. When this is all over, I won’t remember the grade I got on this, I’ll remember this revelation. God has such a huge plan for me, and everyone else for that matter. It’s not the grades that will matter; it will be the experience, the growth, and the epiphanies. But, it reminds me that however virtuous it is to learn for me, there’s juxtaposition with the fact that it’s even more vital to live for God.

Today, I worship God because I trust that He has an awesome plan for me. I want to serve others. It’s wonderful because so often I subconsciously view worship as the substitution of service. I want freedom, but I forget that a servant Christian is the freest person on Earth! I don’t know what part of the reading this pertains to, but I just want to serve. Whatever I end up doing, I want to serve other people through God because, after all, God has brought us out of bondage and what better than to help others out as well. The Ten Commandments were created to give us all freedom, not take freedom away. Who said life wasn’t supposed to be scary? How free is your life if you’re in bondage to safety? Life is not slavery, it’s love freely given to other people. The rain falls to the earth and we wake up green.