WARNING!!! This post isn’t for everyone; it is most definitely not for the faint hearted nor the wannabes, it is neither for the people pleasers nor those who have concluded that they would rather be forever stuck in a mask of conformity; NO! So I don’t want to be giving on here theological debates and philosophical what-nots, I don’t want to be seeing comments and unsolicited advice and opinions I need not be seeing…I know my audience and my audience know me. #EnoughSaid!
So who am I writing to? I’m writing to those who are ready to face an onslaught of opposition, retribution and maybe even threats. I’m writing to those who are wise enough to be wrong, strong enough to be weak, those who are brave enough to be afraid, to question a pattern, to go against the norm, to break the rules, I’m writing to those who are big enough to be little, secure enough to be broken. For what is broken; hear me now! WHAT IS BROKEN IS WHAT GOD BLESSES!
So here it is; I have a few questions for you…take your time and answer as honestly as you possibly can.
Have you reached a point in your life where you feel you’ve hit rock-bottom? Are you wondering if God is real, if this whole Christianity thing isn’t just a hoax, a figment of someone’s imagination? Are you frustrated and feeling like you’re running on empty? Do you want to serve people, reach out to people, and actually measurably impact lives not just attending to an endless supply of committee, fund-raising and project management meetings? Is the degree at which you’re experiencing God waning as each day passes by? Do you want to encourage people to live the God-kind of life, like you once experienced it not teaching or manipulating or subtly threatening them into committing to services and programs? Are you no longer filled with the love of Jesus like you were the very first day you believed in him? Do you want to teach dependence on Christ and not on finding security in being part of a church, a group or a society? Do you feel like the more you do for God the further he gets away from you? Like the more activities you get involved in and the more the committees you sit on, the more disillusioned you get? Or maybe you’ve been keeping yourself distracted by repeatedly telling yourself how that God is using you immensely to touch lives and He probably is, I don’t doubt that, or you’ve been keeping yourself really busy with all sorts of charitable ventures, serving with all that you have, just so you don’t give in to all such questions, and instead you console yourself with the fact that you have a lot to be grateful for, which actually you do, I don’t doubt that either…YET you sense that constant companion; that hollowness in your heart, that reminds you of an unsatisfied craving, an insatiable hunger, an all-consuming desire for more than all these that you’re getting.
Well…I’m not going to tell you all that christianese jargon we all know how to whip out and wield so well, Naaaaa, I’m not going to tell you not to live by sight but by faith and that you should stay positive and not bother yourself with all such questions when souls are perishing; nor will I tell you that you have done a lot of wonderful things for God and He’ll honour you in due season, I’m not going to give you a motivational speech and get you all high on feel-good emotions; trust me, you’ll feel good but only for a fleeting moment, so I would not even bother to give you any of that crap about how you just have to stay faithful and focused and not trust your feelings nor would I try to bolster your spirit with soothing but empty platitudes. No, I won’t do any of that. Because, you know what?! It is good that you feel this way; that you have these questions and seek these answers, you have a right to your feelings and any other such questions you might have and you also have a right to answers, yes! In fact you have just taken a step in the right direction. As a matter of fact, you should be applauded for your courage to treat your spiritual life as something real, as something not passive but active, as something tangible. If the truth be told, your honesty demonstrates a high level of faith and spiritual maturity that most do not possess.
See, you have to understand something, and I’m saying this categorically; this is a big deal, this life in Jesus is a real thing. It is not some game, IT IS THE REAL DEAL and one thing I’ve learnt in my little time on planet earth, working with different people from different walks of life, with different opinions, ideologies and perspectives about God, love and life generally is that when people begin to sense that something is wrong, when people start to question the validity of the path they are treading, the very essence of their existence, the purpose of a journey they’ve embarked on, you know what I’ve found out? Something usually is wrong.
So if in any way you can relate to any of the questions I’ve asked so far or you’ve answered “Yes” to any of the questions, then my dearest dear, it is to you I write this note. Pardon the epistle; I really tried to make it as concise as possible…
So, fellow puzzled and question-filled friend, you are not alone. I’m going to share a few timeless mysteries with you…
First, do you know what this whole thing is about? This journey, the questions, this race, purpose, validity, security, freedom! It is about life; it is about God’s authentic life filling your own and taking over and like Blaise Pascal said in his book Pensees “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, and it can never be filled by any created thing. It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:20-23 – This is the passage I think of whenever this phrase comes to mind). God wants to consume you so much so that you no longer entertain any doubts about His realness and substance. It is the kind of intimate relationship that Adam enjoyed when he walked and rubbed mind with God in the garden of Eden, and God intimated him on His extensive strategy to take the world back to himself by manifesting his reality to the world through you and I. (That is why till date the entire creation groans and wails, yet joyfully anticipating the manifestation and the demonstrations of the sons of God. Read Romans 8:18-21, but we are too busy playing church, like someone so succinctly put it “God has called us to be fishers of men but we are too busy tending an aquarium”).
It is the kind of life Jesus lived that was more than sufficient to meet every need he faced, from bringing back to life a man dead for four days, to turning water into wine with just a word, to feeding multitudes with a little boy’s lunch, to healing a very sick woman who had been bleeding for many years with just a touch from the hem of his robe. This life is not some philosophical thought you can just give rise to through some deep reflections and stuff as if by magic or some kind of theological abstraction to be debated. It is fullness. It is life! It is freedom. It is love unconditional. It is joy unspeakable! It is peace-nothing missing, nothing broken; no matter what happens. This is the kind of life that he came to have everyone partake of, everyone who will let go trying to be in-charge of their own lives and embrace His plans and His thoughts.
It is certainly not what so many have come to believe, like working hard, building big ministries, fulfilling the dynamics of church growth like a dear friend, pastor and mentor calls it *smiles* nor new buildings. It is about life that you can see, hear, perceive, taste and touch; an euphoria you can bask in every single day that you live…
I know my words are ineffective at painting an accurate picture, but you know what I’m talking about. You’ve had moments like that, haven’t you?
I’ve seen it happen over and over again, in fact a couple of times I’ve been in the front row seat, a first-hand witness to such life changing situations; ok so I’m not so old but it is such a scourge in our generation, even a new born babe can already feel the pressure of it all and of course generations before ours. For somehow in our walk with God, we accord unnecessary importance to the wrong things and end up so way off track, distracted and diverted from His true life. I can boldly acknowledge, I’ve been there also.
It happened in the early church too, you know, in Ephesus. Their theology was impregnable, they knew the truth so well they could spot error like a fly in a bowl of soup at a hundred paces, they were not afraid to confront the liars and crooks in the ministry, their resilience in the face of horrendous trials and tribulations was second to none in all Christendom. Suffering seemed to make them stronger the longer they faced it and they never grumbled and whined and nagged when aggressively attacked by others. But for all that, was Jesus pleased with them? (Check out the whole letter in Revelation chapter 2.)
Amazing isn’t it? What they lacked generated such emptiness, a void such that any good they might have achieved or attained unto was swallowed up by it. They had left the all-consuming love they had for Jesus in the beginning and without it their service had become meaningless.
Do you know that you can get so busy working for him that you lose sight of knowing him? Your service becomes no longer motivated by your love for Him or His for you and this makes everything you do in His name not just worthless, but cataclysmically damaging in its effects actually.
I’m sure by now you’re screaming, this sounds so much like me! This is everything I have been thinking! I know, and it’s not because I’m a psychic or something, it is because it’s an old story. It’s been rerun a million times under a million different names. *sighs*
Do you remember the day the love of Jesus first captured your heart? How you were passionate about your walk with God? And how that in the process, you could see God at work in your life, old habits fell away, God’s presence became stronger than your needs and you were reading the Bible at every opportunity? Do you remember talking to God about everything? Do you remember a time when you were joyful, free and alive in your faith?
What happened to that?
You became so distracted, that’s what happened; by all the work, activities and meetings that you soon lost that joy of simply loving Jesus. There is nothing the Father desires for you more than you falling precisely in the arms of his love and never moving from that place for the rest of your life. God’s plan from the days of creation to the last days was designed to bring people into the relationship of love that the Father, Son and Spirit have shared for eternity. He wants nothing more, nothing less—and nothing else!
This is not some God afar off, who sent his Son with a list of rules and regulations to follow or rituals to practice. His goal was to invite us into His love—into an intimacy with His Father that he described as friendship. But what do we do? We are so quickly enslaved by a works-driven religious culture that thrives on guilt, conformity and manipulation that it devours the very love it seeks to sustain.
In Ephesus it was fishing and flushing out false teachers, in Galatia it was getting everyone to obey the Old Testament rituals. Today it is to get people to cooperate with the church program. It doesn’t matter what distracts people’s attention and leads them away from God’s life; anything will do, as long as it bamboozles them long enough to serve as a passable replacement for the real thing. The devil is smart; don’t be deceived, he is, he is always about looking for more subtle, highly captivating schemes to lure the children of God out of God’s embrace.
You see, it’s easier to identify the problem when the rules and commandments are on circumcision and sacrifices and dressing all the way in Ephesus than when it is Sunday morning church attendance right in front of your very nose. But both can lead to the same place; burnt – out, bored and disillusioned believers, no longer embracing the Father’s life. No matter how good it is, the routine eventually withers the life. So when I say to be confused, to have questions, to be bored and disillusioned is good, I know what I’m saying.
Because when you come to that divine realization, (yes divine, ’cause it is not by your power, it is still God drawing you to Himself by Himself) so when you come to that divine realization that the routine you’ve stumbled into is not substantially contributing to your desire to know God better, some incredible things begin to happen, I’m a living witness. Trust me, sitting through the same program week after week wears thin, well, you know that already.
Ok, wait; just in case you’re still wondering what this is all about, let me ask you another question; aren’t you tired of finding yourself year after year falling in to the same temptations, praying the same unanswered prayers and seeing no evidence that you are growing to discern God’s voice with any greater clarity?
Let me tell you something, something I can vouch for with my life but I don’t even have to, its written everywhere in the pages of the Bible; “God’s desire to have an intimate relationship with you has not waned over time and will never wane.”
So you want this life that I speak of, you want to break free of the monotonous, enslaving rituals….well, it is very simple and it won’t take much from you.
Be real with the Father and resist the urges to crawl back into your shell and silently endure lifelessness.
Do not be afraid to be weak, to be broken, to make a mistake, to admit you are wrong. Be humble enough to admit you do not know. Own up to your fears, own up to your struggles; for your struggle stems from the call of God’s Spirit to your own.
Ask him to forgive you for substituting anything for the power of his love and invite him to show you how your diligent efforts at good works for him may be obscuring his love for you.
Ask Him to show you how to simply rest in His love, it is such an uncomplicated, beautiful relationship asking for absolutely nothing in return.
Ask Him to help you let go of your pride, your high-mindedness and self-righteousness; then let God do the rest.
He will draw you to Himself by Himself.
This is what Jesus meant when He said “Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will certainly not enter it” (Mark 10:13-16). To daily encounter God in His fullness and beauty, the best thing is to take on the teachability of a child’s heart, a heart that is spontaneously open, that is not afraid, that is not clogged with the cares and worries of this world, whose total dependency is on His father, that dares to ask whenever in doubt, that loves so purely and wants to be loved too.
Won’t it be a joy again to wake up confident about being loved by God every day, without having to earn it by any act of righteousness on your part?
That is the secret to first love. Don’t try to earn it because the harder you try the emptier and more frustrated you’ll be. Just know that you are accepted and loved, not for what you can do for God, and not somehow hoping that you will be worthy of his acceptance for whatever reasons, but because his greatest desire is to have you as one of his children. Jesus came to remove any obstacle that would prevent that from happening.
The kingdom of God is the one place where you really do get what you seek, because that is the point of the whole thing. If you are looking for a relationship with God then you will surely find it.
I am sure by now you are wondering “then why don’t I have it? I thought that is what I had been seeking all along.” You see, no doubt, it might have been at first. But this works the other way around as well. If you look at what you’ve ended up with, then you’ll know what you’ve really been seeking!
So what have you been seeking?
And what do you now seek?
God bless you!