The Difference

Love your enemy.

That is what Jesus told us to do.

The implication there is radical. That I have an enemy. That seems like such a foreign thought. We all want to be so tolerant… So accepting… So kind…

Does my faith even allow me to have an enemy? I’m a pastor. How could I make someone mad?

Forget pastor – I’m a Christian. Don’t I have to be nice to everyone so I can win one more person to Christ? (That is assuming that I would be so contradictory that I would tell some one that Christ is the only answer for them.)

Isn’t that the reason I have a fish on the back of my car? Isn’t that why my t-shirts all have cheesy slogans that I borrowed from beer commercials but are actually about God? Isn’t that why I go to Bible studies to learn about how nice God was to the Egyptians and the Philistines and the money changers? Isn’t that why I listen to the music that only slightly bad-mouths Jesus but does it in such a wonderfully moralistic way and really makes me think?

NO

I have enemies. There are people in this beautiful world right now that hate my faith. Neighbors that hate my God. Onlookers that would like nothing more than to see me get pulled over so that they can say, “Ha! I knew that Jesus thing wasn’t so great…”

I hope you understand this: I am not talking about having enemies for the sake of having enemies. That is easy. I did that when I was in fifth grade.

I am talking about finally being bold enough to say something that people hate.
People hate Jesus.
Have I been so silent with that name that I have no opposition?

Let it be no more.

God, please give me the opportunity to live out your command in Matthew 5:44.

The Rising Cost of Mediocrity

I was recently told of a study in which the findings suggested that 22% of America’s population was leaving their faith. (I am not entirely sure what the phrase “leaving their faith” means, nor am I sure where that study is published though I have tried to find it.)

So I have been wrestling with the idea and here is my theory as to why that might be true: mediocre faith.

At this point I should say two things. 1. I am not a fan of mediocre faith, and yes, 2. I have spent time with mediocre faith and been completely satisfied in my lack of satisfaction… (Even after typing that, I am getting mad at myself and saying, “Oh, that is probably why I have been so disenchanted in the past…”)

You see, I think God is asking us to climb mount Everest.
Instead, we climb mount Sneffels (a mountain where I live, look it up – it is a cool place.)
Mount Sneffels is a great mountain. Beautiful views. Hard to climb.

It is no mount Everest. Trying to climb mount Everest has killed people. Wow! Bigger!

And there is the problem.

We climb mount Sneffels and expect a mount Everest experience.
Then, when we don’t loose our breath, we think the mountain top experience is a little boring.

We think every mountain top is the mountain top, but here is the truth: There is only one “tallest mountain”.

So of course 22% of people are tired of their faith. I am sure it is more than that. It should be more like 98%. I should be tired of my faith.

If your faith doesn’t steal the breath from you and cause you to have to train for years to get ready to top it…
If your faith doesn’t leave you exhausted…
If your faith doesn’t require a trainer that has been there…
If your faith doesn’t come pretty close to killing you… (actually, if your faith doesn’t FLAT OUT kill you…)
Then you are suffering from mediocre faith.

And that is not faith at all. That is religion.

Boring.

Lord Jesus, lend me the courage to be completely unsatisfied with faith that doesn’t lead me to the top of the tallest Mountain.

Then, let me be a guide to the top of the Mountain.

Amen.