Friday, November 14, 2008

Have we secularized our lives?

I know I said I'd keep writing from the last post, but I really have something else on my mind. I still intend on continuing to write on that subject, but I've been thinking about what spiritual growth looks like more.

I often here people say, "I just wish I was more spiritual."

I know how that feels. I've often felt far from God, like He was some guy I used to know. The Bible is very exciting to me now, but it doesn't always feel that way. Sometimes I don't feel like reading it, and then I feel very unspiritual. In Russia there were times I looked at the Bible like homework, something I had to do but really was quite boring. But I hated that. I fought through that. That wasn't good, and I knew it. I did not stay there.

I think sometimes we're content with liking Jesus when we're called to love Him.

As long as I just like Him simply, this whole Christianity thing will be nothing more than a tedious chore I do to feel good. I must move on from just liking to a kind of love that's very emotional and real.

I want to be the kind of person who can talk about spiritual things freely. But at least right now, that's not always true. I tend to get distracted, sarcastic, and apathetic. If you know me you know that's true. I so badly want for Christ to be my actual Lord. I am not content with others thinking I am spiritual, I want to be fully transformed by Jesus.

I love the idea that the Kingdom of God is much like leaven that, when kneaded enough into the dough, will pierce it the whole way through. I want this to be true in my life. I wish that God wasn't something I keep in some corners of my life but there's still parts which are very much my own. I want it to all be God's. All my hobbies, tastes in music, humor, and all the other little idiosyncrasies that make up who I am... can those really be God's, too? Or is it just the "spiritual" aspects that I will give Him?

I'm afraid our religious world has become secularized. We tend to think there's parts of our lives that belong to God, but then there's parts that are our own. There's parts where God's Kingdom reigns (spiritual stuff), yet there's also these parts where I reign because it really doesn't matter (neutral stuff). But I don't see that in the Bible. God must be my life, or I am not really experiencing His Kingdom.

I think spiritual growth involves many things, but a great part of it must be that there's bits of me which are constantly changing shape to look less like me and more like Jesus.

But this makes us so uncomfortable, doesn't it?

I mentioned this idea once in the context of being willing to make new interests so we can relate the gospel to others, and it made some people very angry. "Those things make up who I am!" they exclaimed. We are so defensive about what we hold as our identity, and I might be so bold to say that may be because our identities are in us, not Christ. Any attack on our identities and we are up in arms. As I said, I'm afraid some parts we want to give to God but some parts we're content keeping to ourselves.

This is what allows some Christians to talk passionately about evangelizing a lost world, but laugh hysterically at the very sin which makes them lost.

I'm not trying to point fingers here, but something's wrong. Does Jesus exist in religious activities but goes on a break during ordinary life? This is not the Jesus I know. I remember trying to convince some people to have small groups during the week, and they freaked out. "Where would the control be? Would the elders be there to monitor it?" It was like we needed permission to talk about Jesus. We already hang out in homes, why can't we just keep doing that but talk about Jesus instead of watching movies? We need permission for that? How far have we gone? Something is wrong.

I want to be like Jesus, but I allow so much to get in the way. I desperately want to serve a God who gave it all up for me. He didn't command me to love Him, instead He earned it by paying the ultimate debt I didn't have the money for: His own life. Man, I love a God like that. How could I not? He deserves whatever emotion, energy, and actions I can muster.

My prayer is that we can give up the personal parts of our lives we prefer to keep... the secret parts, the fun parts, and even the ordinary parts.

What do you think?
Share your thoughts.


Daniel Coutinho said...

It struck me when you said that we already hang out at home doing other crap anyway, why not talk about Jesus and crack open our Bibles? I hope we get to focus on that together man, it's hard for me too, but together we can do it.


Daniel Coutinho

doug young said...


Your thoughts here bring to mind the need for transparency. Transparency allows for genuineness and authenticity, instead of facades and hypocrisy. We know how our lives ought to be, and yet the pain of not measuring up causes us to put up fronts as a means of saving face. In the end, its for nothing because its all a sham.

May God help us to see that the two worlds, spiritual and physical, are morphed into one. The kingdom has been brought here. We live in it here. If we view it that way, then secularizing our lives is impossible.

Good stuff!

David Creek said...

Wow, very good thoughts as always, Josh. I wish i heard this more often from people.

About a year ago i was talking to a good friend and he was telling me about an older brother we both look up to. He said, "Every word that comes out of that man's mouth is spiritual and has something to do with the Word of God."

That left a lasting impression on me because i've noticed that while much of what i say IS spiritual, a lot of what i say is concerning the things of the world.

When i was a little boy, i was a HUGE basketball fan. I used to study all the basketball cards and to this day i could probably tell you the height, weight, alma mater, and hometown of nearly every NBA player from 1989-2002.

Eventually, i realized, i can quote all this useless information but I can't quote the sermon on the mount. I can name every player on the Milwaukee Bucks but I can't name all the fruits of the Spirit.

While there's certainly nothing wrong with having hobbies, i think we all need to take a look AT those hobbies and to analyze how much time and energy we're devoting to those things and how much time and energy we're devoting to things above.

And actually, we're told to seek the things that are above - the things that are eternal and everlasting, rather than the things of this fleeting and temporary world.

That's really sad that no one was interested in getting together with you to do that during the week.

Many people don't even want to get together on SUNDAY MORNING. The early Christians were together EVERY...SINGLE...DAY! They got together every single day, going from house to house and we're talking about ONE HOUR one day a week being too much of a burden on you!?

There isn't a show on television or anything else this world has to offer that's more important than us encouraging each other...feasting on the Word together...having a spiritual discussion...speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs...leading someone to Christ...and whatever else holy living includes.

Again, i thank you for this post and for reminding us all to pursue the things that matter most.

I love you brother and i pray Christians everywhere will wake up from the disease of materialism, entertainment, and casual Christian living.

jaime said...

Josh, thank you.

Thanks for cutting to the heart of things and being honest about your struggles and questions and about what you're learning. You've challenged and encouraged me.

Thanks again.

-Jaime Banks

Johnny said...

Great post Josh!

You made me think about the parable of the good Samaritan. There was a man who was not secularized. The disease that blinded the other men was their status in the world. This makes me ask myself, am I loving my neighbor as myself???
If so, why is my neighbor hungry, hurting, lost...I would take action if that was me, so what am I doing about my neighbor.

It is so easy to get bogged down and conform to the ideas of the American Dream that tell us to help ourselves. We even have this quote, "God helps those who help themselves" and we are afraid to rob someone of that help. Well what if I am that help???

Thanks for reminding me to be more about JESUS and less about me.

Joshua Tucker said...

Sorry I haven't been on here for a while, mid-term and thanskgiving break and all that. Anyway...

Daniel - Thanks for the comment bro. I hope as roommates we can help encourage each other too.

Doug - Sorry we didn't get to hang out over thanksgiving man. Thanks for the comment, I've always held transparency high in my book. I'm really liking the Divine Conspiracy by the way.

David - Thanks so much for your well thought out, extensive comment. It's a very difficult thing to remain spiritually focused all the time. While there's nothing wrong with having fun, we should still be able to do that for the glory of God. God gave us the outdoors and everything else we enjoy. But it's not about the fun... it's about God. At least it should be. Thanks for your encouraging comments brother. I love you guys.

Jaime - Thanks for dropping by! I haven't seen you guys in a long time. I appreciate the encouragement and look forward to seeing your family again.

Johnny - Amen. Thanks for your post. I want to be more like the Samaritan, more focused on loving people and less focused on protocol. That's how Jesus was. I appreciate your heart!