This morning, my husband and I had an interesting conversation about being a Christian... specifically about how hard it TRULY is to follow Christ. Sometimes I say this to people and they look at me as if I have three heads. I've even had someone say to me that being a Christian isn't hard... I just make it hard. I stood my ground and told this person that if she didn't think that following Christ was difficult then maybe she wasn't really following Him. Chan goes on to echo this sentiment in this chapter:
"If life is a river, then pursuing Christ requires swimming upstream. When we stop swimming, or actively following Him, we automatically begin to be swept downstream.
"Or, to use another metaphor more familiar to city people, we are on a never-ending downward escalator. In order to grow, we have to turn around and sprint up the escalator, putting up with perturbed looks from everyone else who is gradually moving downward." p. 95
Even I as I read this now, I can't help but feel this growing frustration. As my husband and I continued to talk this morning, I started connecting specific "dots" in my head. For the past few months, I have been trying to put this "puzzle" together... specifically,
WHY I've felt so disconnected to Christ and the idea of "community in Christ" as a whole. Well... I think I've figured out the answer... and I'm not sure I like it. Chan even touches on it:
"I believe that much of the American churchgoing population, while not specifically swimming downstream, is slowly floating away from Christ. It isn't a conscious choice, but it is nonetheless happening because little in their lives propels them toward Christ." p. 95
I've finally come to understand that... YES, I have been "lukewarm"... and, YES, I have given God my leftovers FAR MORE than my best. I've come to the frightening realization that I am the "rich man" Christ was referring to... and that scares me... immensely. And as I go to church and talk to my other Christian friends, I'm noticing that I'm not the only one. The difference, however, is that many of them don't seem to care... at least they don't care enough to make changes in their lives. And the overwhelming answer I get is this: "It's not realistic... in this society." So my question then, is this: Do we allow this flat screen TV, iPhone, Facebook, Twitter, Mac-mansions, rent-to-own furniture, 50-year mortgages, buy-now-pay-later mentality, sex and image obsessed society dictate how we follow Christ? Is our faith a game that is played within the perimeters and rules of society? God help us if it is!
But, we all know that it isn't. It's just so much easier to say that things are different now... that following Christ is harder today than it was 2000 years ago. (But, quite honestly, I would take the "tough" temptations of today over the stonings and beheadings that many of Christ's followers faced 2000 years ago... and still face today!) I'll close today's entry with Chan's take on the subject:
"What scares me most are the people who are lukewarm and just don't care... Many of us believe we have as much of God as we want right now, a reasonable portion of God among all the other things in our lives. Most of our thoughts are centered on the money we want to make, the school we want to attend, the body we aspire to have, the spouse we want to marry, the kind of person we want to become... But the fact is that nothing should concern us more than our relationship with God; it's about eternity, and nothing compares to that. God is not someone who can be tacked on to our lives." p. 96
Francis Chan has a website that he updates every-so-often. I checked it out the other day and was really intrigued by his entry for September. As I read his entry, I couldn't help but ask God to bring friends into our lives that live as Francis and his family live. I think it's so encouraging to hear about people that live by faith... but knowing people, being friends with those people, I can only image how profound the impact would be. Yesterday afternoon, I went over to a friends house to talk. After almost three hours of conversation, we came to the realization that talk is cheap... and complaining gets us no where. We've decided that we have to be the change we so desperately want... even if we have no idea how to get there. We're just going to trust God to show us the way.