Contradiction of Tradition
I have often said that Christianity isn’t about doing certain stuff, but about going through life walking with God. At the same time, the only way I knew of going through life in a Christian way was by doing the Christian stuff.
It’s like often happens to me: I know what to do long before I find myself able to do it. Even though I understand this, it still feels like I am trying to push beyond some biblical barrier. The one thing that keeps me confident going this direction is that it has brought me back to my foundational belief in Jesus and rested my entire life more fully on this faith.
It is uncomfortable living a contradiction to the tradition of Christian performance. It is easy to talk of God’s unconditional love and grace when I feel like I deserve it for the way that I live. It is quite another thing to talk of love and grace when I realize that no matter how hard I try I fall short. It shifts the whole context of Christianity from one of acting a certain way to one of simply enjoying whatever I do in the presence of God.
I may be coming close to an end of trying to figure everything out. Ecclesiastes 1 outlines Solomon’s experience with this pursuit and he seems to urge readers that they should avoid this pursuit and simply learn from what he has written. In terms of the way I live my life, I think Ecclesiastes may be the best guideline. Yet, something inside me fights against this. I would rather have the rules, guidelines, and encouragement offered by Peter, James, and Paul. I want to have the way that I live mapped out for me. I want boundaries and laws to live under. It’s easy that way. I know exactly how well I’ve performed and measure up to the standard that I believe I have discovered.
But this lifestyle contradicts the over-arching principles of the Bible. The gospel becomes another religious tradition of performance. Those who follow it most strictly become nearly worthless for every day life. Love becomes a requirement. Life is all about the next life. Jesus parables about the faithful stewards become laughable. Instead of faithfulness with the life that is given, there is an attempt at faithfulness with what is to come. This leaves life in shambles and offers no hope to those who may be invited to enter the kingdom.
So what do I do?
My heart desires a relationship with God. My life is beginning to look a little bit more Christian. For some reason, I actually care about people – not in general, but specific individuals. There are people that I love in some way that is not purely intellectual or spiritual. My life is disrupted in almost the same way that it was back in 2010 when I first decided to have faith in Jesus. I am beginning to enjoy being alive again.
I could care less about most of the things that I did as a Christian – except that now they are useful to me as tools of showing love to people when I want to do so. Evangelism becomes about wanting someone else to have the relationship with God that gives me this kind of freedom. Prayer for healing becomes something that I can do if I want to see someone get better. Reading my Bible is something I do because I want to hear God speak and read about what He has done and spoken to others.
All of these are things that I may or may not want to do depending on the situation. They are not a mold that I have to fit into in order to be a good Christian. They are not a requirement for following God. They are an expression of who I am because of who God is making me to be.
This life that I live is not something I have a plan for. I don’t know what way is the right way to go. I don’t know what to do. All I have is me and God and love. It is scary, but it’s okay. Without Jesus, this is a stupid choice. With Jesus, I am free.
John Michael Montgomery says “Life’s a dance, you learn as you go.” I think he may be right. Life’s not so much about answering the questions as about learning to live well with the unanswered questions.
Micah 6:8 “He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to act justly (do what you know is right), to love mercy (keep from judging others), and to walk humbly with your God (live every moment in a relationship with your God that is not based on your greatness, but on His goodness).