I’m not satisfied…

I was listening to the song “Believe” by Hillsong as I was riding my motorcycle home last night, and the familiar lyrics struck a chord within me yet again. Here’s most of the lyrics:

I say on Sunday how much I want revival
But then on Monday, I can’t even find my Bible
Where’s the power,
The power of the cross in my life?
I’m sick of playing the game of religion
I’m tired of losing my reason for living
Where’s the power, the power of the cross in my life?

I’m not content just to walk through my life,
Giving in
to the lies, walking in compromises.
Now
 we cry out as a generation that was lost
But now is found in the power of the cross

I’m not satisfied doing it my own way
I’m not satisfied to do church and walk away
I’m not satisfied there’s no love in my life but You
I’m not satisfied living in yesterday’s hour
I’m not satisfied to have the form but not the power
I’m not satisfied. Lord I am crucified in You.

Chorus:
We believe in You
We believe in the power of Your Word that is true
We believe in You
So we lay down our cause
That our cross might be found in You

I was riding home after having the privilege of meeting with a woman I’m mentoring each week as part of the New Image class offered by Love In the Name of Christ (Love INC). It is a 12-week class and mentors/mentees meet in-between class dates. This is Level 2 of the classes. My mentee has already gone through 12 weeks of classes, and, after these classes are over, she wants to take another 12-week session. God has done and is doing an amazing work in her, and I have the privilege of witnessing it. (This is what makes Love INC great — meeting needs and transforming lives with the love of Christ through the Body of Christ)

Anyway, as I was riding home, this song was playing and I was thinking about the great work God has done in this precious woman (and her family as well). The lyrics hit home.

No more playing religion.
No more Sunday-only Christianity.
No more living in the past.
No more having the form but not the power.
I’m not satisfied with that! There’s so much more!
Where’s the power of the Cross in my life?

It’s a good question to ask.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYAyf6cO0VM

DIY?

Are you a “do-it-yourselfer”? Do you like doing home projects? Do you like houses that are “fixer-uppers”? Many of us do. We like to see the reveals. We like to see the “Before” and “After” photos. We love it when they yell, “Move that bus!” to unveil the transformed home.

We are fascinated by do-it-yourself projects. There’s even a DIY Network on cable TV. We like to see that we’ve accomplished something. We feel good that we did it. We feel good about ourselves. We did it ourselves, after all. We admire our work and smile. “Git-er-done”, that’s our motto. It’s the American way. It’s part of what makes our country the best in the world.

This fascination with do-it-yourself carries over to other areas of our life, namely our spiritual life. We feel better about ourselves when we go to church weekly, pray harder, study our Bibles more, and are deeply involved in the seemingly countless programs and projects the church offers. We may not consciously think about it that way, but most of us, truth-be-told, subtly believe it.

If we fail or fall, we try harder. We re-double our efforts. We pick ourselves up and carry on. Consciously or sub-consciously, we hope in ourselves and in our own efforts.

Pastor Tullian Tchividjian says, “The only hope for ourselves is to give up hope in ourselves.” He goes on to say:

“The Gospel is the good news that Jesus has not only done what you could not do for yourself, and He not only has achieved for you what you could never achieve for yourself, and He has not only given you what you could never get for yourself, but He also UNDOES everything you’ve done to mess things up! The Gospel is ‘while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’ (Romans 5:8) The Gospel declares that while we were at our worst, God gave us His best. The Gospel is NOT humanity, and it improved; the Gospel is Christ, and Him crucified.

“The Christian life is a love affair with a unloseable lover. We are clothed in an irremovable suit of forgiveness. We don’t have to go out and try to buy love, earn peace, achieve joy… these are things that are given! For free! Jesus earned those things so that we could freely receive those things. Sinners like you and me are recipients of descending, no-strings-attached, one-way love.

“You are forever loved. You are forever vindicated. You are forever forgiven. Score-keeping with God is over! You are made righteous by what Jesus has accomplished for you.”

This is not “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” This is not self-improvement. This is not you better try harder, turn over a new leaf, or re-double your efforts to be a better Christian. This is not “do-it-yourself” religion. The fascination with do-it-yourself ends here.

Freedom in Christ should really make you free… don’t you think?

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

Deal-breakers?

In men’s group last night, we talked about what a loving community of Jesus-followers looks like. We talked extensively about the differences between denominations, and the pitiful, trivial reasons we aren’t unified as one Body of Christ. If it weren’t so sad, it would be laughable.

The question to ask when deciding to partner with others from another denomination is, “Do they believe in Jesus Christ and him crucified as the Son of God?” That is the “essential” question as author James Bryan Smith says in The Good and Beautiful Community.

Could all our others differences be “non-essentials?”

Smith goes on to say, “The essential is our identity as people in whom Christ dwells. Tolerance is not our primary aim; nor is equality. Our highest aim is love. Our primary focus is on Christ as Lord.”

We will always have differences in doctrine and methodology. We will always have differences in style, how we dress, what we sing, and how we worship our God. Yes, we have major differences. But as Pastor Brandon said last night, “Are they deal-breakers?”

James Bryan Smith says:

“I am not liberal and I am not conservative. I am an apprentice of Jesus. I am simply trying to discern that which that which is essential and that which is non-essential. For me, the basic teaching found in the creeds (the Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed) is essential. Everything else is non-essential. Not unimportant, just not important enough for me to divide from those who share the same belief in the essentials.”

For me, this rocks my world. It has me re-examining my “essentials” and my “non-essentials.” I wonder how different the Body of Christ – The Church – would look if we all did the same. I wonder if the watching world would respond differently to the Good News.

There are important differences, to be sure. Each must decide what is essential and non-essential. But that shouldn’t stop us from our highest aim: love.

Love never fails.