The church I attended for a long time closed a few years ago because it got too small. I was sad. Partly because I felt like I was losing a family, and partly because I had to go church shopping.
Church shopping is like jeans shopping after your favorite pair of jeans get a rip across the butt. You go store to store and try on all these pairs and none of them seem quite right and you just wish you could go back to your old jeans but you can’t any more because they’re gone. So finally you get a pair that you think it pretty close and you wear them in until they get soft in the right places and stretched out in the right places, and then they become your favorite pair.
But this post isn’t about jeans. Or church-shopping. It’s about my Bible study. Even though our church closed, our Bible study didn’t. We’re very laid back and only meet about once a month, but we pick up right where we left off the last time. And it’s like family.
And since we’ve all known each other for a while, it’s a safe place to talk about things you’re struggling with or for me to say random things for the sake of being devil’s advocate because I know they won’t stone me.
We read different books and discuss them, and since we’re not afraid of things like controversy we picked up Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins.” If you’re a Christian, you’ve probably heard of the controversy that is this book.
I’d already read it. Well, skimmed it. A friend loaned me his Kindle so I could read the e-copy and I read it slowly because I was getting distracted by other things. A month or two later he asked for his Kindle back and I raced to finish the rest. So I’ve read it but not digested it.
So far we’ve only discussed the first two chapters, which are like an introduction (with a lot of questions but no answers) and the chapter on heaven. And the latter really tied in to something God’s been teaching me over the past year or so. That is, heaven and life between here and there.
Something I have really been exploring and wanting to know more about is Christian life between “praying the prayer” and death. A number of years ago my boss asked me how being a Christian affects the way that I lived my life. Not anxious to add to the (admittedly, earned) stereotype that being a Christian is about a list of things / sins you don’t do, I skipped that part and said something about my hope in heaven. He politely responded, “Yes, but how does that affect your life now in the day-to-day?” I don’t know what I mumbled, but I didn’t have a good answer.
The purpose of being a Christian can’t just be hell insurance, right? Jesus has got to be more than that.
I’m having a hard time defining why living life with Jesus is better than living life without. I know that it is. It’s something I know deep in my very core. But I’m having a hard time explaining it.
I don’t have any kids, but I imagine it’s kind of like that – having them is challenging and rewarding in a way that is hard to explain to people without them. (Maybe? Any parents out there feel free to shoot me down.)
I know another part of life with Jesus is working to bring Him glory while here on Earth. That means working for justice, caring for people, doing what is right, and things like that. But then I struggle with how to answer a question I’ve heard before: “Why does doing all those things need to include Jesus?”
The more I look at this question of living Christian life, the more I feel like I don’t know. As though I’m standing at a frosted window scratching the ice away. I make a little peep hole and can see a little, then I scratch it bigger and can see even more.
I feel like this about God, too. The more I learn about Him the bigger He gets. I’m okay with it because I’d rather have a big, mysterious, powerful God than one of my own creation that I can completely comprehend.
But anyway, this in-between-ness is confounding me. “Congratulations, you’ve accepted Jesus! Now sit around and wait until you die.” No. I don’t think so. I haven’t come close to figuring this out yet, but I am convinced that experiencing heaven, eternal life, intimacy with God starts NOW… and just continues after death. I’m just not sure what it looks like.
I know we’re supposed to “make disciples”. But to be honest it’s a bit challenging for me to try to do this when I don’t understand it myself. It feels a little like saying, “Hey, you should get this thing!” (What does it do?) “Um, I’m not totally sure, but so far I’ve discovered that I can use it to peel potatoes, make my home smell minty fresh, and increase my gas mileage by 10%.” (You’re trying to ‘sell’ me something you don’t understand yourself?) “Well… yeah? But having this thing is awesome and life-changing! Don’t you want one, too?”
I suppose that’s a challenge that every Christian faces. The closer I grow to God, the more questions I have. Maybe I just need to be okay with having all these questions and so few answers. I know that life with God is amazing. I just don’t know how to explain it. Anyone out there want to weigh in?