Imagine for a moment that you had lived your life being stranded on an island. You and your family had been on this remote island, separated from all civilization for your entire life. All you have is a tiny transistor radio where you can hear discussions about what civilization is like, but you cannot experience it for yourself. miraculously, a passing ship sees you and your family, and you are saved and brought back to the United States of America. There is a huge party thrown for your arrival with people bringing you food that you’ve only heard about on your little radio.
Someone brings you a huge plate of chocolate cake. But you decline the offer of cake. You tell the person that you had heard about cake on your radio and you tried to make it. You added coconut shells, a little salt water, banana’s, and a bit of coco leaves that were growing nearby, and it was horrible. You tell the person offering you this cake, “Thanks but no thanks. I’ve had chocolate cake before, and its awful!” It would be plainly obvious by your description that what you thought was chocolate cake wasnt cake at all! You thought you had tasted real chocolate cake, but only vaguely went by the ingredients and instead, added in your own ingredients. The result was anything but real chocolate cake!
This may seem like a far fetched story, but Id venture to say that it is no different from how we are with how we view a life of following Christ. We follow some of the ingredients for the Christians life such as going to church, saying our prayers, and avoiding sin, but we throw in a few ingredients of our own. And the most damaging ingredient to the recipe can be summed up in one word….routine. Bake sales, church committee meetings, Monday night visitation, Wednesday night bible study, redemption groups, community groups, church book clubs and church fund raisers….all good things in their own right. But too often, these calendaring events become what the church is about. They become what drives the church. And pretty soon, the routine Christian life we’ve created taste nothing like the recipe Jesus has given us in scripture.
Sadly, because of this perversion of true Christianity, many view the Christian life as boring. Many picture living for Christ as sitting in a pew listening to sermons and wearing suits and dresses. But to say that this is what Jesus had in mind for his followers is like saying coconut shells and banana’s belong in a chocolate cake. We as a culture have strayed from the original recipe, and in turn have made the finished product of Christianity boring and tasteless. But I believe if more people….if more churches even followed more closely to Jesus recipe for Christianity, then we’d be seeing more lives transformed.
So what is the mission? What is the goal? What did Jesus intend for the Christian life? In all the verses we take to heart on prayer, and repentance, and confession, we tend to neglect the most important ingredient of the christian life….
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19.
In all of the business of our church routines, how is it that we so often forget the very last command Jesus gave before ascending into Heaven? The command to Go! And one of the biggest reasons we live such a powerless Christianity at times is because we let our fleshly desires get in the way at the very detriment of our own spiritual joy! Let me further explain.
In our society, a heavy emphasis is placed on the so-called “American Dream.” We want to be successful. And this usually begins with a very well-intentioned desire to take care of our families. We seek to get a job that will give us that big house, nice cars, and the ability to buy the comforts of life. Pretty soon a regular cell phone is not good enough, we have to have the latest one that costs $400. To be satisfied, we must have cable television, so that we can watch shows portraying people who break the commandments of God (The Batchelor, soap opera’s, almost all sitcoms) all for the sake of our entertainment. We must live in a certain place that or area that can give us all of these earthly desires of our hearts.
Yet at the same time, we claim to love Jesus and be followers of Him. Ask yourself these questions….
“Would you follow Jesus to a place where you couldn’t have cell phones?
“Would you follow Jesus to a place that had no televisions?”
“Would you follow Jesus if it required you to get out of your comfort zone?”
Here is the scary part….those are the places Jesus is going. Are you following him? Or following the American Dream as your first priority with Sunday morning church sprinkled in on the side? The point is, if you are not GOING and making disciples, then you are not following Jesus! Look at the men of scripture and the examples we are given. The apostle Paul was constantly persecuted and always going and sharing the gospel even if he knew that people didnt want to hear it! Before coming to Jesus, he was rubbing shoulders with the religious leaders in the land. He was well respected among them. He could have easily gone to Synogauge to worship once a week and lived an easy, lavish lifestyle. But something happened. He met Jesus on the road to Damascus. And he could not seek that worldly comfort. Because he wanted to follow Jesus, and that wasnt the direction Jesus was going.
Look at the lives of the disciples in scripture. I challenge someone to find anyone of the twelve disciples who were followers of Christ that in their older years retired with a nice beach front condo in front of the sea. Instead you will find they were all constantly doing one thing…..going. They never stopped going and sharing the gospel, even when it cost them living a life of comfort.
Im not saying to be a true follower of Christ, we all need to go live in a cardboard box behind the gas station. Im not saying that we all need to become foreign missionaries. But I am saying that I think we need to let go of the things of this world a lot more than many of us currently are doing. One day all of us are going to stand in front of the king of kings and Lord of Lords, King Jesus! And we are going to have to give an account for what we did with the breath that we were given. And we will have no excuses on that day for not going and making the proclamation of the gospel our life’s most top priority!
Jesus said in John 10:10 that he came to bring us life! The implication is that in living for him, there’s life! When God called my family to the mission field of Panama, the Lord opened my eyes to this reality. The people we were ministering to in Panama had no televisions and no shopping malls. They were living in the jungle in huts made of bamboo and tin and dirt floors. Yet they always lit up at the mention of one word….Dios…God. It wasnt a burden in Panama to share the gospel….it was an adventure! We had no comforts of our current American society. But honestly, living the adventure of serving Jesus was far more of a prize! I wasnt bound by the lust for materialism. Instead I found true life in serving Christ!
In the community you live in, there are people with great needs. And there are many idols and material things in our society that will fight for your attention and draw you away from serving Jesus. Jesus never meant the Christian life to be only sitting in a pew. He never told the disciples to be sure to calendar all kinds of events to occupy the churches time and to make it more appealing. Jesus gave one simple order….GO. If you view living for Christ as routine or boring, then you are not following the Jesus of the Bible. Maybe its time we stopped living vicariously through action and adventure movies or playing video games. You see God made us with this innate sence of adventure. This desire to find life in going. But we settle for cheap imitations of the real thing in materialism and entertainment. A very wise and deceptive tactic used by Satan to give Christians a total misconception of what it looks like to follow Jesus. Maybe its time we concentrated a little less on the routine of Church, and began seeking to follow in the footsteps of the savior.
For my own children, nothing would make me happier than for my four boys one day to grow up and to tell me that they were leaving on an adventure. For them to tell me that they were following Jesus to live as missionaries in Panama, or China, or some other part of the world where people are in need of hearing the gospel. My flesh would miss them, but my heart would be leaping with excitement for the coming joy and adventure that stood before them in chasing after Christ. Are we currently going to the nations? Closer to home…are we currently more focused on our church calendar or on reaching the lost people in our very own communities?
Are we focused on weekly bible studies for people who are already coming to church, or are we constantly designing new strategies for reaching the lost, even if it is different from what the church has always done? Living for Jesus is not a routine, it’s a journey that was meant to go. We can read and study all about Jesus. But to truly experience Him, we have to walk as he walked. The power of Christ isnt found simply in the hearing of the word, its found in the application of his commands. So how does your personal walk with Christ look? Is it a daily adventure to live for him or is it ordinary and constantly predictable? If the latter holds true, you might want to check and make sure you have all the proper ingredients. You may have heard others tell you the recipe for Christianity, but you may want to check His word for yourself. Following Christ was never meant to taste boring and bland. Its a rich and vibrant life. Go and follow his example. Forsake your material desires…and go make disciples.