08 January 2006

I thought it was about time to finish this four-part "ship-burning" blog. So here's the final chapter.


Listen to C.S. Lewis describe his own life and the lives of people who, having believed their spiritual maturity to be FATE … wake up one day to find themselves pathetically immature in Christ and feeling no way out but to pretend they’re more spiritually mature than they actually are because of guilt and the expectations of those around them. Lewis writes …

“Those, like myself, whose imaginations far exceeds their obedience, are subject to a just penalty: We easily imagine conditions far higher than we have really reached. If we describe what we have imagined, we may make others, and make ourselves believe that we have really been there – and so deceive both them and ourselves.”

The trap is that so many Christians can write, speak, preach, teach, elder and lead so much better than we can actually live. We have the experience of journeying with Christ, but we’ve missed the meaning of journeying with Christ.

Listen to me … Jesus doesn’t invite us to walk with Him because His needs the exercise. He invites us to live life at His side because we need to be changed. And when we begin to realize that what we’d hoped we’d be in Christ isn’t what we are in Christ, it’s easy to try and “fake it ‘til we make it.” But the problem with this strategy is that with an attitude of FATE we’ll never make it. Never.

In the third commandment, in Exodus 20:7 God says, “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name.” (italics mine). The King James Version of the Bible says that “we’re not to take God’s name in vain.”

We’ve usually assumed that this “misuse” of God’s name means that we’re not to use God’s name as a swear word. And what that’s no doubt part of its definition, the heart of the word “misuse” has to do with “blasphemy.”

Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck writes, “Blasphemy is using the name of God to pretend we have a certain kind of relationship with God, when we don’t.”

Peck’s words have a certain familiar sting to them because I doubt that there’s a person here this morning that hasn’t lived them out in one way or another. Within the confines of our own hearts and spiritual journeys, we’ve all, in different ways, settled for a mind-set of FATE instead of DESTINY … and we’ve reaped the consequences of cultivating spiritual pretense instead of spiritual honesty.

Christ calls us to burn the SHIP OF SPIRITUAL PRETENSE so we can live life beyond the lie of deceit, beyond the bondage of blasphemy, and beyond the torture of hypocrisy.

Where are you at with God … right now?

When it comes to your spiritual walk and your spiritual maturity, are you on the road of FATE … looking back all the time, hoping against hope to see some signs of change and growth, when you know there has been little … and then having to pretend you’re something / someone you’re not?

Or are you on the road of DESTINY … partnering with God to become the person God has planned for you to become since before you were conceived? When it comes to choosing DESTINY over FATE, Hebrews 5:11–6:3 scratches us where we itch. In his paraphrase The Message, pastor/teacher Eugene Peterson renders these verses this way:

“I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you’ve picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you needing someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one – baby’s milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milks is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong. So come on, let’s leave the preschool finger-painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ … Let’s get on with it!”

God knows us … and I don’t mean superficially. God is intimately acquainted with us. God knows what ships we’re burned and which ones we’ve kept anchored in the harbor … close at hand for a quick escape. God knows that all too often we settle for a connection with Him that is much more “approximate” than it is “intimate.”

But God also knows our hearts. God also knows our struggle to cast off a perspective of FATE and grab onto a vision of DESTINY.

Billy Crystal was right … at least in the first sentence of his Career Day speech when he said, “Value this time in your life kids – ‘cause this is the time in your life when you still have your choices.’”

But it’s not only fourth-graders who have choices. It’s any person who’s willing to burn the ships of SELF-RELIANCE … EASY, FEEL-GOOD RELIGION … AND SPIRITUAL PRETENSE and travel with Jesus Christ to those places where the work of spiritual maturity moves off the drawing board and becomes as much of a reality as our own laps.

The pages of our journals aren’t all filled in … not by a long shot. And so let’s, each one of us, commit to picking up the nearest pen and begin writing. Godspeed.



1 comment:

Marta said...

Loved this!!!