I often feel that when I listen to certain pastors speak, or when I, myself, am speaking to a crowd for the sake of God, I repeat the basics over and over again. Recently, I thought about why I did this, and I realized that it's because I have a passion for people to truly understand and be amazed by the love God has for us, for them to be moved by His calling on our lives! But I feel that our cultural Christianity is filled with so much generic content that most of our population only knows about. They don't have anything further than that...
There is a difference between knowing God and knowing about God. Often times, people get the two mixed up - or worse, combine them as being one in the same. They are definitely not the same.
At times, it is hard for me to not repeat myself on issues like, "God is against [this]" or "what does [this] mean" as well as the more encouraging things like "Jesus loves you" and Jesus saves you." A lot of people would say, 'that's not a bad thing' - which I'm not saying it is. While these things I often say are truths in our faith, these same people are missing is the fact that we are all called to radical living under the influence of the Holy Spirit. We are called to a life that is worship for God and brings glory to Him in every way. We are not called to a life of generic responses and half-hearted prayer and worship once a week.
You may have heard it said: Going to church does not make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car. I love that phrase for the comic relief it halos over the serious and honest undertone. So many people go to church on Sunday mornings; they bow their head when the pastor prays, they sing along to whatever song is playing, and they are involved in a Sunday School group. So few of those people actually have a true relationship with God. The generic impression most people have in their minds is this: if I believe in God and know that Christ died to save me, I am in a relationship with God and I am going to heaven." That is the 'truth' so to speak, but that mindset does not quite cut the picture of a relationship God had in mind.
There is a party hosted with a good number of people - most of whom you don't know. You go to this party with your spouse and kids and meet the host there, one of those you have never met. "Hi my name is [your name here]," as you shake hands with the host. The host smiles, shaking your hand and replies, "I know who you are, I'm glad you came!" Loosening your grip on the hand shake, you smile again at the host and say, "Thank you for inviting me. This is my spouse, and these are my children," as you gesture towards your family. The host again replies, "Yes, I know! I know each of you individually, and I am so glad you are here! We should consider talking regularly and get to know one another really well!" You agree saying, "Sure, sure! That sounds great," and noticing the other people invited you say to the host, "Well we'll go ahead and see who esle is here and maybe make friends with some of these others." Understanding, the host smiles and say, "Sure thing, enjoy your time here - but please find me again so we can talk more."
You and your family disperse into the crowd of people and meet some who are like you; the ones you are most fond of are involved in the same sports that you like, listen to the same music, maybe even have the same habits. As you get to know people, you make plans with them to get together outside of the party, and exchange numbers. When the party is over you leave, and you think you faintly hear the host calling out to you saying, "I'm glad you came, [your name]! Come back soon!"
For weeks and weeks to follow, you and your family are invited back to parties hosted by the same man as the first. All the same people are invited too, some of them are now your friends so you're really looking forward to it. However, as you come more often, you talk less to the host than when you first met him. Instead, you and your family immediately find the friends you have made with the other party guests and talk the night away until it is time to leave. You can see the host from across the room, and a time or two you see him waving you to come over. Those times he tried to get your attention, you were in the middle of some important conversations so you gestured for him to wait just a minute. However, when you finish talking to one person, you forget about the host and go to the next conversation ready for you to jump into.
At the end of this night's party, you remember that you have come to these parties for months now and haven't talked to the host since the first time you came. You walk over to him and say, "Thanks for inviting me to all of these parties, by the way, I'm really getting to know some great people." The host smiles and says, "I'm glad you have been coming. But my purpose of inviting you each time was so that you can get to know me more since I already know you so well. Why have you been avoiding me?"
Befuddled by this response, you reply, "In meeting these great people, we have been able to get to know each other and make plans to spend time together. You are one of the reasons we met, and you are something that we all have in common - you invite us to your parties every time. We even talk about you when we get together!" Although still understanding, the host says, "You are missing the point, [your name here], I invited you here - I invited you all here - because I wanted you all to get to know me, and make plans with me, and spend time with me as well as with each other. However, no one has really said much to me, or tried to make plans with me, or even spent much time with me the entire time you all have been coming. I'm glad that you are here, and I am glad you all share a common interest in me, but what I really want is for you to know me."
This is what MOST of our Church looks like today. We share the common interest of Christ with those we go to church with. We make plans with those people and really spend time getting to know those people, and God seems to stay at a distance even though we think that there is nothing wrong. We are stuck in the baby steps of our faith and we do not progress any further because we think that baby steps is all it takes.
So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ over and over and over again. Let's stopped meandering in the same generic phrases we learn as kids and teach our children. Yes, they are very important and crucial to our understanding of God and our relationship with Him, but we are to not only say them, but understand them, and grow in their meaning. Jesus loves me. Yes He does, but why? Do you really understand the depth of His love? Can you fathom the meaning of His sacrifice and what it meant for our relationship with God? Does His love move you to share with others everywhere and leave behind the menial human-made purposes of life? Does the love He have for you make you want to praise Him even more with teaars in your eyes, wondering why He would ever love someone like you?
This time will come at some point in most of our lives - some sooner than others. It is hard for me to not want to rush through that time of growth and getting there because I really really really really really want to share this very feeling that I have with everyone I meet. However, rushed timing is not God's timing. Procrastination is not God's timing. Waiting on God is God's timing - and He has always been faithful.
Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding of God's love for us, the salvation Christ has paid for, the truth that should change the very way we live, and the meaning of a true relationship with God. Once we have come to the place with God where we can really realize the depths of these things, we are able to come into a true relationship with God, not just a right one. From there, God has the power to grow us and change us from the inside out as we learn to praise Him from the inside out. This peace surpasses any relationship we could ever find on earth and it is the only peace and beauty we should find ourselves falling for. We, as a body of believers, need to start taking seriously the reason we exist; we need to allow God truly come into our lives and start preparing us for maturity in Him.