Sunday, March 30, 2008

Identity


Update on Life


I guess I haven't written in a long time now. Life's seemed pretty hectic the last few months, and though I kept meaning to update this, I just never did. It's hard to believe the AIMers will be leaving in a couple of weeks. Time has just flown by.

I was reading Amanda Creek's
blog and she was talking about how in Russia we seemed to be there forever. Our pace of life was slow there. But now being back in the States she says time just seems to fly by. I can definitely relate to that. I have this constant feeling like I need to be more productive, because I'm just not doing enough.

But I'm learning to be content with that. Seeing the story of Jesus feeding of the five thousand has really helped me. The apostles couldn't feed that many people looking only with their eyes. The numbers just didn't add up. But a little boy gives all he has and Jesus uses it to do wonders. I've just seen that though I can't do everything I'd like, I can still feel good about what I'm giving. And weirdly e
nough it makes me want to do more, but because I know I'm not perfect. Jesus asks not for perfection but for effort based on faith.



Thoughts

I'm not connected to a Church here as most people would see it. On Sundays I go to a 'service' depending on my situation that day, but honestly it's not that important to me. It's weird because I know this whole Christianity thing doesn't happen in a box or in my private life. It happens in community. But I have that community. I live with three guys who love God like all get out. I'm going to a Bible school and work with young missionaries who want to be disciples of Jesus and make more disciples of Jesus. I love Christ's Kingdom.

I was at a Church a few weeks ago and I overheard an interesting conversation where people were talking about someone who used to be in the youth group there years ago. Someone asked, "Does he go to Church?". I found that to be an odd question, personally. What they were saying without knowing it was that this guy's faithfulness to God could be shown in whether he was still going to an assembly every week or not. I remember when I fell away from God for about six months, I still went to "Church" Sunday morning, evening, and Wednesday evening. I was still "involved", but I was living for me.

My identity had changed from being a Christ-follower to a Church member without even knowing it. As a Church member I was doing great because I did my duty: I showed up. But as a Christ-follower Jesus had become foreign to me. I know longer lived by His teachings nor walked with faith in Him. From the way I see things I think many in Churches today, good people, have made their identity in being Church members instead of Jesus-followers. I'll be honest... this scares me.

It scares me because I don't think Jesus wanted the apostles to go make religious people who did certain religious things. I think He wanted them to make disciples of Himself who would change their complete outlook on life from the inside out based on His death, burial, and resurrection. But today it's just way too easy to have all the trappings of being religious without being truly transformed by the gospel of Jesus. I've been there. I feel like in some ways I'm still there.

If my identity is being a Church member, all I have to do is the religious things my Church does and asks of me. But a Christ-follower requires a lot more: my heart, sacrifice, love, and complete devotion to a God I cannot see. This is much more difficult, but it's the only thing that makes sense.

Now I'm not saying all people who go to Church are like this. I know many ardent disciples of Jesus completely immersed in serving within an awesome local congregation. But I don't think I'm being too bold by saying this is not the norm within the evangelical world. I feel so burdened walking into buildings called "Churches" and seeing and meeting people (good people, as I said before) whose discipleship is based on what happens once a week in that building. It's hard to know what to do or say to them. I think God loves them and that He brings people to Himself whether I do anything or not, yet there's this part of me that sees that something needs to be done.

I try not to focus on this for very long. It's always easier for me to point out the problems of others without looking inward. What I want to do with these thoughts is to be inspired even further to help others get closer to Jesus as I'm trying to do the same. And so with every encounter I really pray I focus on being Jesus and sharing Jesus. But I pray for the Church and myself, that we can learn to bring our focus away from buildings, ceremonies, and traditions and on to Christ.

3 comments:

Brandon said...

Great post, Josh. Definitely enjoyed that. Hope you are getting back into this thing because I love to hear your thoughts.

Pamela D. said...

It's funny how sometimes we're so worried about the symptoms instead of the problem. It's like Kevin said yesterday, (i think it was him) that if we are disciples of Christ, we'll want to be with His followers. So in one way, "going to church" should be a sign of our heart (but in a lot of ways...it's not).
I know in the moments that I am struggling most in my faith, are the moments that I want to be as far away from God's people as possible, because they convict me.
But where did it happen that people didn't care about being His disciples anymore, and wanted to become members of a society? And how can we change that mindset? How do we get rid of the social clubs and make bodies?

Anonymous said...

It's hard sometimes for me, too, to not be just a "church-goer". It's hard especially right now in my life, because I am in this weird place... not sure where I am...

Anyway...thanks for the thoughts. :-)

Amanda Creek :-)