I used to read. Almost five years ago, before three babies came along and interrupted my R.E.M. every three hours, before toddlers refused to sleep in their ‘big boy’ and ‘big girl’ beds, I used to read every night before my head hit the pillow. Now, my eyes start to flutter and the windows in my brain start closing with each word I try to decipher.
Around Christmas, I started reading Radical by David Platt. I’m embarrassed to say what place my bookmark is currently holding. And while I still have two thirds of the book to go, I am amazed how the ideas I’ve read challenge me every day.
The premise of the book is that the American church has manipulated Christianity to fit with the American dream. Our religion is more about comfort than taking seriously the commands of the Bible. Near the very beginning of the book, Platt compared two different versions of how Jesus is presented in church, the modern-day feel-good gospel and the biblical gospel, and I often wonder which version I have chosen to follow:
‘”The modern-day gospel says, ‘God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Therefore, follow these steps, and you can be saved.’ Meanwhile, the biblical gospels says, ‘You are an enemy to God, dead in your sin, and in your present state of rebellion, you are not even able to see that you need life, much less to cause yourself to come to life. Therefore, you are radically dependent on God to do something in your life that you could never do.’
The former sells books and draws crowds. The latter saves souls.”(Platt, 2010, p. 32)
I began to look at how I worship God. Where are my thoughts during church, during worship? What is my prayer life like? When I am talking to God, am I more in awe of him, or am I focused on myself?
Christianity can feel like a paradox at times. The God of the universe, all-powerful and full of hate toward sin, loves me and wants a relationship with me. He demands my worship and will punish those who don’t give it, yet He desires all to come to Him and call Him ‘Abba,’ or ‘Daddy.’
I tend to focus on the Daddy part. I like the loving God who calls me to His lap to sit and talk. I like the God who sent His Son out of love for me, who can forgive my worst sins because of Jesus’ sacrifice.
And I believe that all of those characteristics of God are true.
Yet, at times, I have focused so much on those traits, that I have turned Jesus into a self-help book. Jesus is my ‘Mr. Fix-it.’ I come to Jesus asking Him to make me a better mother, a better wife. I ask for help when we are having financial difficulties, and I ask for wisdom when deciding where to send my son for kindergarten. Every day I have my list of requests, and I eagerly await for Him to answer them.
But I forget the other side. I forget the depraved nature of my soul. I forget that God is a jealous God, demanding my full worship. I forget His warnings against sin and choose to focus on grace. I forget His call to care for the poor and share the Gospel to the ends of the earth. I forget to stand in awe.
And while I completely believe that God wants to hear the concerns of my heart, to “cast all [my] anxiety on him because he cares” (1 Peter 5:7), I also believe that one day ” every knee will bow…every tongue will confess” (Isaiah 45:23) that He is the Lord.
Perhaps if I encountered God with true awe and reverence, remembering how unworthy I am to stand in His presence, engaging in true worship, then I would see more of those changes I want to see in my life. If I truly allowed myself to see how small, insignificant I am to stand in the presence of the King of Kings, then I would realize how amazing and incomprehensible is His gift of grace and how incredible that He invites me into a relationship with Him. And if I really believed all I said, I couldn’t help but share.
I forget that Christianity isn’t about me. It’s about Him.
Perhaps, I shouldn’t venture into the next third of the book until I get this main idea down.
I’m linking up today with Michelle for her “Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday” link-up. If you have never visited her blog, you are missing out! She has the most beautiful words and pictures to accompany them–please check her out today!
And remember to come back Friday to link up for our next ‘Journeys’ topic! We will continue exploring the fruits of the Spirit, this week’s being forbearance. Click on the ‘Journeys’ tab above for more information on how to participate:
22″ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).