Theses 10 of 95

wittenberg-doorThe Church Should Not Be Bored With Jesus

Lately I’ve been pouring over Paul’s letter to the Galatians. I’ve read it before, did talks based on the text of it before, I’ve even been graded on what I thought about it (or what I remembered from what I was told I should think about it). One of the questions that keeps popping up for me is this, “How do we get bored with Jesus?” Boredom wasn’t the critical issue for the Galatians but in applying the truth of Paul’s letter to my life it seems to be one of the issues that continue to beg for attention like my Golden Retriever.

As I look around at the state of Christianity in North America in these days we live in it seems to me that we’re so bored with Jesus that we’ll try every kind of “plug in” available to keep our interest up.

Ego: Speak for yourself nerd, I’m not bored with Jesus.
CV: I wish that were true E, but it seems like we all are.
E: What are you talking about? When have I ever said I was bored with Jesus?
CV: It’s how we live. Take the Bible for instance.
E: I’ve got one and I even read it.
CV: The truth is E, you’ve got a few Bibles, maybe even more than a few and you don’t really read all of them. But my point is, how many different kinds of Bible’s do we need? For over 2000 years people have been thrilled just to have a Bible in their own language, now that’s not enough. Today you have to have the Men’s Bible or the Women’s Bible or the Couple’s Devotional Bible. You can pick up the new Patriot’s Bible (turns out Jesus is on America’s side) or the Max Lucado Bible…
E: Max wrote his own Bible?
CV: No, but they’ve taken some of his books and tossed them into a blender with a Bible and came up with a Bible with his name on the cover.
E: How cool! I totally want a Bible with my name on the cover!
CV: I’m sure you do but my point is that we can’t get excited about the Bible anymore unless it’s been personalized to fit my specific demographic. I’m waiting for the “Middle-Aged, white guy who wears progressive lenses and can’t dance” version.
E: You’re such a loser…
CV: Thanks, but you get my point. Do we really need even one of these hybrids? We’re just bored with the “plain Bible”. And that scares the crap out of me.
E: Hey! Language!
CV: Sorry E, but it does worry me and I’m starting to feel angry about it. I’m not saying these are “bad” things, I’m wondering what it says about us? About me? And how am I so easily bored with Jesus that I need this extra stuff to keep interested?
E: So we’re a little bored with the Bible. I’ve read it a few times, seen the movies, aren’t we bound to get bored? What’s this got to do with Jesus?
CV: My point was that a story like the Bible really can’t get old, it’s the ultimate interactive story…
E: Are we talking about Song of Solomon again?
CV: No, not specifically, the whole thing really can jump off the page and grab you by the head and heart but we still manage to get bored with it, like we get bored with Jesus.
E: So you say, but what does that mean?
CV: Robert Capon argues that we need to re-discover the Good News! He writes, “The critical issue today is dullness. We have lost our astonishment. The Good News is no longer good news, it is okay news. Christianity is no longer life changing, it is life enhancing. Jesus doesn’t change people into wide-eyed radicals anymore. He changes them into ‘nice people’.”
E: Capon, capon, isn’t that a fish?
CV: Are you even listening? The story of Jesus, the story of following Jesus, was the story of taking the revolutionary road, the life threatening road, a way that introduces a style of living that smells sweet to some and like death to others. It wasn’t a morals message, the Jews were moral, Greek Stoics were moral, lots of cultures and religions practiced morality, the world didn’t need a new moral or even a better moral – they needed a heart transplant, a transformation into a new kind of thing.
E: Mmmm. Doesn’t sound boring to me!
CV: No, it’s not boring, it’s actually exhilarating and frightening all at the same time if you really get it. But that’s not what we do. And so we get bored with Jesus and we start adding things on.
E: On? Like what?
CV: I think it comes down to three additives: secret information, elite experience, outstanding morals. We chase after the latest teaching that we’ve never heard before about some level or realm of heaven or “God experience” that someone claims to have or claims to be able to tell us how to have. We claim a high view of Scripture and then ignore the fact that the speaker is twisting it or ripping it out of its’ context to say what he or she wants – it doesn’t matter to us as long as it’s new! We want to have some new experience that no one has had or no one has had since Bible times. Will we fake it? Ask the folks at the hypnotists stage show – we’ll fake it to fit in or be so invested we’ll fool ourselves into thinking we’re really seeing it – even the emperor’s new clothes. And where we complain or decry experience we exalt intellect and good behaviour. Jesus didn’t come to make us good folks. He came to turn us into something we can’t be without his Spirit transforming us from the inside out. We keep trying to convince ourselves that it’s about having better morals than everyone else which is absurd if you look at history. That’s never been the story Jesus told. Ever.
E: Ah, so you’ve got the secret info…?
CV: No E, it’s no secret, we’ve just gotten so bored that we’ve ignored it and lots of people know what I’m saying, it’s just not popular any more.
E: Do you think I could say it was secret info and work it into my own version of the Bible with my name on the cover?
CV: Well E, there’s certainly a lot of money to be made there. And after all, we all know Jesus wants you to be rich.

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About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Church, emerging church, Meaning, Rant, religion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Theses 10 of 95

  1. Michelle says:

    So what was the story Jesus told if it wasn’t morals? I mean, I understand we didn’t need Jesus to tell us again what we already knew. We know we shouldn’t do bad things! But, what did he want?

    Did he want us to sell everything we own and practice communal living? To rebel against corrupt religious authorities? To be humble servants or fierce warriors? Yes, his spirit will change us… but will it be immediate or will it be gradual? And what are we supposed to do with that new life? Can real Christians fit into society? Should they? The way I see it, if your neighbours don’t think you’re at least half crazy then you might be more attached to this world than the next…

    But hey, I could be wrong. I have more questions than answers and my neighbours don’t think I’m crazy.

  2. brianmpei says:

    Indeed Michelle!

    I think the story Jesus told was a story of adoption, of belonging, but not of being sown in like an odd patch on a new garment. That’s why “born again” a term I hate to use now, is still a key phrase. We become something we were not to live with a family in a new way that we had not.

    I think the change (and sorry for sounding dodgy here) is immediate and gradual – like being adopted. I become part of something immediately but the internal changes come both fast and slow.

    I think we fit into society in a sense, but not comfortably, I don’t think it’s supposed to be “all this and heaven when I’m done.” i think that’s what the church has tried for the last 50 years – come to Jesus and be rich, happy, healthy, etc. – be a better you! Momma Teresa knew better.

    What he wanted was brothers and sisters who would grow up and live like sons and daughters of God like him. If there’s more than that, I’m not sure what it is but I’m trying to find out.

    Thanks for commenting!

  3. TJ says:

    Picture a person, standing still, no moving, no talking…hardly breathing…for about 5 mins…looks pretty boring…yawn…dullsville…could you even watch them for that long?!?
    She was changing the water in a hummingbird feeder, routine task, and heard the hum…
    So she just stopped, stood, waited til it was over…and exploded with hoots and ‘did you see that?’ and ‘I can’t believe it’ and she’s got goose bumps, even now, and can’t stop yackin’ and ‘Oh my God’ing about it…6 inches away from the hummingbird while it fed, the details, colors, sounds…the bits and pieces you miss when you move too fast through this world…watching the tiny wings, the beak, how amazing that each feather has the right color, in the right place…to come together in this creature…and what does it try to be? Just itself, a hummingbird, and in being itself it can amaze anyone that slows down to notice the details….
    And she can be just as amazed, and be just as boring, when watching the blue jays..so many colors and feathers in such complicated arangements…and all they’re doing are being blue jays…
    I’m not bored by His details…heck, it’s what gets me through a lot of days…
    And I’m learning that a bird, or dog, or cat (yes, He did make cats Brian) doesn’t try to be anything other than what He made them to be, and that they are amazing, and I try to die a little each day, again and again, to become who I’m supposed to be, not who I think I am….
    Like this post, I usually keep my mouth shut, it’s not like me to talk about me…but He kicks me in the butt every so often, and it works out better when I listen… (-:

  4. TJ says:

    Wow…too long…have to start using the internal edit button…

  5. Ian says:

    OK….

    I don’t think people are bored with Jesus; bored with their lifestyle, job, friends, et cetera, and it is because the Holy Spirit has not had access to these parts of their life. This would I think lead to a misguided affection for stuff and things not pertaining to God…Just a blind eyed blurb…

  6. brianmpei says:

    TJ – that was beautiful.

    Ian – I agree that the Spirit is part of the answer, but my limited experience is that people are interested in angles, oil, ecstatic experiences, knowledge and goose bumps than simply following Jesus. You bring that blind eye around here any time you want!

  7. Ian says:

    I think what you have just described is the result of misguided affection

  8. Ian says:

    I think what you have just described is misguided affection

  9. brianmpei says:

    Ian – can you repeat that? ’cause I think that’s exactly what I’m trying to say!

  10. Michelle says:

    I don’t think the story of Jesus is boring but it certainly is confusing. I mean, God sees that the world is full of sin so he comes up with a plan to send His perfect son to the world so we would crucify him and everyone who believed would be saved. It sounds great but it makes absolutely no sense. I’m not trying to be flippant here -just truthful! It’s not that I don’t believe, I just don’t understand.

    So yes, personally I am searching for that special insight; that aha moment that brings it all come together.

  11. brianmpei says:

    Michelle there’s no question – well, o.k., for some of us there’s no question – that following Jesus includes elements of mystery. I don’t understand how the death of Jesus pays for the wrongs I’ve done and the wrongs that have been done to me – I’m exclusively trusting that Jesus did take care of and I’m basing that on what he said, what others have experienced and what I myself experience of his ongoing participation in my life.

    A friend of mine used to say, when asked if he’d been born again, “Yes, often.” I find seeking Jesus has led to a life full of “aha” – born again – moments.

    U2 gave voice to the pilgrimage we’re on, the already but not yet, when they wrote, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…” To believe isn’t to have all the answers.

  12. Shelley says:

    i’m definitely not bored with Jesus…but sometimes i am bored with the church.

  13. Michelle says:

    I think I recall someone saying that you don’t have to understand how gravity works to believe in it. So true.

  14. brianmpei says:

    Shelley, that’s a whole new post. I too am bored by the institution but I’m more and more fascinated and amazed by people and relationships.

    Michelle, I hope that’s true! I think I’d say the same of love.

  15. I think maybe TJ is on to it.

    It’s when we stop – look – and really see – then it’s like – wow – i can’t believe it – i’m in awe.

    and

    i get that way when i look at a flower – a bird – a sunset –

    and

    i’m learning to get that way when i look into eyes – faces – and really hear people.

    (actually you inspired me to do that Brian – it’s hard work but i’m learning)

    and then ask jesus what he thinks about this person – what are his hopes and dreams for them.

    it’s tuning into him.

    and learning to be fully alive.

    it’s all pretty awesome actually.

    not at all boring.

    • brianmpei says:

      I think that’s the main thing I love about your site ‘Sparrow, your writing and your photography have taken practicing the presence of God to a whole new level for me. The longer I live like this the more value I find in the small and intimate and gravitate towards the ‘everyday’ for my touch of grace rather than the ‘extraordinary’.

      Speaking of which – pool?

  16. Claire Muir says:

    Thanks again Brian…
    I have to say I get Shelly’s point. Bored with the “church” and how much it takes to keep that machine running…Not bored with Jesus, or God or Spirit… Always amazed at how He sneaks His glory into my life. From kids, and grandkids to Hummingbirds. I especially love being in my flower/weed garden. Even weeds intrigue me…
    I love to watch things…don’t let that freak you out…

    It amazes me though how we have packaged, and how we are selling the whole “Christian experience” as you indicate Brian. TV, books, online(a-hem)and the whole gambit.
    It HAS GOT to be such a big deal for today’s Christian (in the West here at least)in order to grab our attention. It has to be slick and new and “the latest”…we have put ourselves into such competition with the “secular”.

    How do we take the Word of God and give it “the latest” look? Why would we do this? (I say this even though I have a book on hold at the local Christian bookstore titled “Living a Holy Life”…Are you smiling or rolling your eyes?)

    Being a worship leader of sorts, I am feeling pressure to sing this or that song cause it’s sooooo great. And still pressure to do the “old ones”…that would be anything written more than a year ago…and still go “after” what we as a church, are about… What are we about???And still!!! more, so much more…stuff.
    I wonder if the disciples got caught up in what others were thinking of them? Did they embarrass the heck out of their kids, spouse? Likely…but still they moved ahead.

    Anyway, not sure if anything in this thought of mine has made sense…
    Perhaps we are trying to make something(a woo-hoo experience) out of something(Jesus, Gospels etc…) when it isn’t meant to be something other than the truth in our lives, and us living it out. What are we looking for???? Cheers to U2…

    Claire

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