Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Earn Your Downhill - IT GOES AGAINST THE NORM



Click the picture to watch a 1 minute mountain bike video

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
- James 4:4

For many, enjoying the thrill of the downhill comes after buying a lift ticket and having their bikes towed to the top of the mountain. Ski areas benefit greatly by offering the opportunity as the once snow covered slopes become a summer adventure sport mecca. Without the chairlift many would not enter the sport – likely considering it too difficult.

But as a biker grows in the sport should they expect to do more and experience more – like maybe, peddling to the top of the ski mountain rather than riding the chairlift?

Church is big business not unlike the ski resorts. They make it their business to provide ministry to Christ followers and to tell them of the Christ. But, WE are to be in the business of knowing God and being the Church.

We can know about God by attending church (riding the chairlift) but we cannot come to know God this way. Sitting in the audience of a church does not guarantee personal experiences with God. Attendance alone does not penetrate to the crevices of our souls and transform our misguided beliefs.

Here are some startling facts about church goers[1]:

·   Half of all believers say they do not feel they have entered into the presence of God or experienced a genuine connection with Him during the past year.
·   Less than 1 out of 10 “church” goers shape their core beliefs on the truth contained in the Bible. Rather, 91% possess a patchwork of theological views shaped by other influences such as television, movies, or other publications.
·   Most American “church” goers align their identity and success to personal achievement or accomplishment and resource acquisition as defined by the world (Maslow’s need pyramid).
·   In a typical week, only 25% of believers allocate time serving other people and even less effort is invested in serving needy people outside the “church” congregation.
·   The most significant influence on the choices of “churched” believers is not teaching from the pulpit; it is messages absorbed from the media. In fact, less than 16% of congregants have a relationship with another believer where accountability is provided.
·   The likelihood of a married couple who are “churchgoers” getting divorced is the same as couples who are not disciples of Jesus.

Unfortunately, too many place their hope in the “church” instead of in Jesus (www.setyourpiggiesfree.com). Knowing God comes from trusting Him and obeying His teaching in everyday life (1 John 2:3).

As a seasoned sports coach I see the benefit of telling students of the cost to be a disciple. I want them to avoid becoming falsely disillusioned and discouraged by the challenges they will encounter on their journey. I too often see action sport students or disciples of Jesus for that matter exit when unexpected hardship sideswipes them.

Jesus asks some pretty difficult requests of us:

·   Deny yourself (that is to mean deny your pride and self-sufficiency) – Matthew .
·   Love your enemy – Matthew 5:44.
·   Serve others – Mark 9:35.
·   Forgive – Ephesians 4:32.
·   Reject the temptation from the prince of this world, Satan – Matthew 4:8.
·   Turn your cheek – Matthew 5:39.
·   Be humble – Matthew 23:12.
·   Do good – Matthew 5:16.
·   Be good – Matthew 5:6.
·   Give – Matthew 6:2, 4.
·   Trust me – John 8:12, .
·   Follow me (obey my commands) -  Matthew .

I must admit these things to be extremely difficult – it’s the reason I title my discipleship coursework series – Living in Extreme Ways. Many church goers set these costs aside and opt for the easy path … the wide gate (Matthew ). It is the path of least resistance full of comfort, security, and temporal pleasure distant and disengaged from God.

Do you see yourself riding the chairlift looking down in admiration of those peddling up? Ask yourself if any of these look familiar:

·   Is intimacy with people more important than intimacy with God.
·   Do you prioritize sexual pleasures more than the goodness of God.
·   Do you value popularity and acceptance over association to God.
·   Do you demand security over taking risks with God.
·   You cherish status quo over being made new by God.
·   Do you love comfort rather than being challenged by God.
·   Does worldly pleasure crowd out the peace of God.
·   Is financial security more important than the joy of God.
·   Having control is more essential than trusting God’s promises.

Be encouraged. Jesus loves me. Jesus loves you. He does not desire to place a heavy yoke on us (Matthew -30). In order to accomplish these very challenging requests we must rely on the Spirit of God in us to be the very source of our strength and courage (Philippians ) trusting Jesus to be the way, the truth, and life (John 14:6).

A little known secret blessing comes to those that endure the long, arduous peddle to the summit I want to share with you – familiarity. We can know the ONE comprised of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit as we might know any person. Some consider this to be a ludicrous prospect.

Think of it in terms of mountain biking. If I ride the chairlift, I miss the subtle nuances I would have experienced peddling on the trail. I miss the obstacles that become opportunities to allow Jesus to be my source of peace, perspective, and provision. 

As WE give Jesus control over ALL aspects of our lives He becomes familiar to us. He, the living Word of God, becomes the light guiding us through the darkness (John & John 9:5). Jesus, the Son, becomes the central point our “solar system” revolves around.

It is within a community of believers that we become the Church supporting and encouraging each other to: (a) know the truth, (b) walk by faith, (c) live by grace, (d) worship the ONE, (e) have hope, (f) be filled with the Spirit, (g) live whole, (h) be holy, (i) endure suffering with joy, (j) seek and know wisdom, (k) live with purpose, and (l) rest in the embrace of our heavenly Father.

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[1] George Barna, Revolution (Tyndall, 2005), pages 30 – 35.

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like the secret you point out that we really get to know someone (God) when we go through life with them. Experiencing lifes ups and downs, joys and pain together creates a bond that lasts.