I know, I know. I shouldn’t base my philosophy of life on anything but The Book… But this particular book hit on several key notes. Key issues I’ve been dealing with.
First… Who is this Jesus, anyway? I remember knowing Him one way and walking in the sweet fellowship, the Honeymoon phase. The place where I remember being told my view of G-d was just “too naive”. What does that even mean?
Second… What does it mean to serve Him? Being busy about the organization isn’t quite the same thing, is it?
And third… Do I live a life worthy of persecution? For His sake, not mine. Rebuke for bad behavior is NOT persecution. Neither is a spanking for being a disobedient child.
So, back to this book. It’s a little read. 125 pages (ish) and written like a novel. The writing style is a bit patronizing with the very obvious message interfering with storyline on more than one occasion, which was somewhat irritating. Enough with the gentle leader approach. Enough of the “mystery”, just be open and up front already, ok? M’k.
Positives… The main character, Jake, is very real and, speaking as a former Churchianity leader, I could relate to him on many levels. Although, with my usual pessimistic caveat, they could have explored more of the family journey they were all on. I can’t imagine being a wife who smiled and nodded along with a fraction of what Jake endured. I’m sure there were quite a few lengthy conversations they could have included that would have been imperative to developing and influencing the end result.
Although somewhat formulaic, the author(s) do make a fairly significant attempt to address all the issues we might face in our walk and growth process within both the organization and reality of our faith.
Not C.S. Lewis quality, but not bad either.
I was challenged, encouraged and inspired at different points. It has definitely made room for some interesting discussions in the near future. The Mr. is reading it right now. We’ll see it how that goes.
The name? Oh, sorry. “So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore?”
I know. Long. Laborious. Catchy. Could have simplified it to something like: “Burned Out On Buildings” or “Finding Foundational Faith” or something like that. I don’t know. I’m just a blogger with opinions.
Anyhow… You can go to their website at JakeColeson.com and actually read it for free (http:www.jakecolsen.com/jakestory.pdf) or even download free mp3’s of it being read by one of the authors. You’ve gotta love the free factor as it adds quite a bit of credibility to the passion of their message. And the prices for the book and audio book aren’t bad either at $12 and $30 respectively.
So… How does this book address my current issues?
It did and it didn’t.
Being a part of a much regimented systems as a child, growing up as a believer in the Calvary Chapel movement (which is no less regimented, just more socially acceptable) and then spending three years in a Messianic congregation I have pretty much seen the worst of the Man Up Front mentality. The diligent servant and all that. If you are a mature believer you give back… Anyone else ever deal with that? I’m sure I’m not all alone here.
Now, I may be wrong, but didn’t Jesus just tell folks to follow Him? And then do as He did? At what point did He require them to “serve Him”. I think it’s more along the lines of “inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these…” Right?
And what’s the difference between living our lives daily looking for opportunities to do what He did in His earthly life and “serving Him”. Am I serving Him less by not signing up to run the nursery or sing on the praise team? Can I join the Christmas Choir simply because I enjoy the music and pageantry and not because I want to “minister” without my heart motivations being questioned? What if sitting with my husband and holding his hand during prayer time is much more holy than passing out bulletins at the back door and doing the handshake pull-in to get people moving into their appointed places?
I think the whole serving Him question got off base the second I quit looking at Him as my constant companion and started looking to “pay it back” or “forward” whichever the direction is.
When I first became a believer there was no question of whether or not I talked about Him. I breathed Him. Every moment. I drank in His word like I was starving for it. I talked to Him constantly. About everything.
And He talked back. About the weather, the people, the future, my dreams. I suppose that means I prayed a lot. Just with a minimum of formula and a maximum of real “talk”. You know what I mean. The prayers that start “ Father G-d, I just want to thank You for Your involvement in our lives today. And, Father G-d, You are the most Holy and Amazing, Loving Father who just keeps us going every moment. We just want to praise You for all Your kindness today. “ And then we start the To Do list of requests for G-d to fix things in our life.
But I remember when it didn’t occur to me to start with the formula because He and I had been talking all day. “Lord, I’m nervous about this meeting. Do You think I can do this? Can You hold me for the next 2 hours?” And feeling, knowing and embracing the softness of His presence while I did something I didn’t think I was capable of.
I remember walking out of one of those meetings and saying, “High 5! Dude, that was awesome. Could you be any cooler?”
Is that not prayer because it doesn’t fit in with our little paradigm of Spirituality?
So I suppose I’ve already answered the third question haven’t I… If I’m living as He did, serving as He did, loving as He did, then I would, according to His own definition, be worthy of persecution.
Matthew 5: 10-12 (NASB)
10″Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11″Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12″Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Flashback to homeschool today. What is a pronoun? Class? The part of speech that can take the place of a noun in a sentence and function as a noun. Well done! You didn’t, by chance Google that, did you? Cheater. (Me too.)
“They” is a pronoun. “They” refers to a specific someone. Now, given what we know of history as recorded by the Gospels as well as credible extra-biblical sources, who were the “they” who most doggedly persecuted those who followed Jesus?
Hint: It wasn’t the secular society, although they weren’t real happy with Him or His followers and did do their own part.
So who was it?
The established religious society of that time and eventually even those among the Body who refused to acknowledge those who chose to serve in a way which didn’t accurately reflect the system by which they had chosen to live.
I think I need to think outside the box. I can’t dispose of all I’ve ever known, I have been taught truth and I want to honor the structure I see clearly defined in Scripture while not settling for the man-made methods of control I see we, as fallible and frightened creatures, have demanded.
It’s a big world out here. And I’m looking forward to, perhaps for the first time in over 12 years, discovering my own faith and working harder to be formed in His image and not in the image of myself or someone else.