A lot of people have been asking me what books I’m reading this school year, expecting to hear something about the emergent church, church planting or maybe some kind of postmodern answer like ‘there is no truth in books, only in relationships.’ I think that I probably would have given one of those answers more directly in most cases but for the next little while I’m going to try something different than what I’m used to. I’m going to read the gospels, over and over again. I’m still going to read other books, but I want my main source of reading to come from the gospels so I can try to better understand the gospel.
I’m starting to appreciate Jesus more. Growing up in church, it’s easy to create Jesus into just another felt-board character or another super hero that we are supposed to look up to. It’s easy to take someone like Jesus for granted. We are told that since we have Jesus in our heart that we will spend eternity in heaven singing songs and eating cake while everyone else put their fingers over candles for eternity (you all have to remember your pastor using that illustration at one point), except not just their fingers, but their entire bodies, and not being able to pull back when they want. So we get comfortable with Jesus reducing him to our Savior that brings us to the good place and we just accept that some people won’t get to go to the happy place. I grew up Pentecostal, so more than once Jesus was reduced to someone who we called upon when we needed some miracle or some debt relieved.
As I move forward in my journey with Christ I realize that the only time that I feel like I’m living the life I’m supposed to is when my actions line up with Christ. When I’m serving people, when I’m serving in a ministry, when I’m spending time out for coffee with friends, when I’m listening to people pour out their heart, when I’m worshiping God, when I’m helping hurting people, when I’m taking time out of my day to just encourage someone, when I’m trying to understand God; these are the times that I actually feel like my life is being lived properly. The times when I know I’m not living up to my potential is when I put myself in front of others, when I make myself a priority more than other people, when I disrespect people or gossip or judge them, when I keep my time for myself and don’t share it, when I am a bad steward with my money, when I see hurting people and do nothing to help them, when I insult someone or when I lust.
Growing up I looked at Jesus as a boring character. Admirable, yes but not someone I actually wanted to be like. I did not want to walk around with dirty feet having bleeding women grab me, while demons yelled at me and then get crucified. I enjoyed living in my clean and comfortable house, having friends and money to buy my computer, maybe even put a black light in it. Now I’m starting to see what Jesus is all about. I’m afraid it’s only a glimpse, but its enough that he has sparked my curiosity to dig a bit deeper.
So this school year, I’m reading and studying the gospels. It should be an interesting contrast to my Gnosticism and Sex and Violence in the Hebrew Bible class I would say also. Hopefully I can come to a better understanding of who Jesus is, so I can better live my life like he lived it so I can better live up to the purpose of my life.