I never meant for it to happen. In retrospect, I can see how it happened. Very quietly. Slowly.
And without attention. But it was happening anyways. I ended up with a life that is very much about me. About my stuff. About my emotional well-being. About my happiness. About my benefit.
We moved recently. And as we packed everything up, stored it, moved it, and began unpacking it. I realized I had way too much stuff. Stuff I didn’t even know I had. As I unpacked things, I would discover items and say “hey! I wondered where that went!” And then I would remember that at the time I got it – I just couldn’t live without it. It was so important to my happiness and my personal welfare that it was a “have to” moment.
It made me think about how ‘consumer-driven” I am in my life.
And then I started thinking about how often I do the same thing with my view of God – with my opinion and expectations of His church – and the demands I have placed on Christ.
It is an unintended path but the one easily taken in our Christian walk. We begin by saying things like “I’m not getting fed at church” or “they just don’t meet my needs”. “I want a church that unlocks the praise in my soul” or “I wish our church was more like ____.” It might sound well-intentioned – even meaningful and insightful – but the pronouns are all about us. Satan is pretty good at that in my life.
Very quietly, slowly and without noticing, I become a Christian who is about looking for reasons why I "can't" be happy. I become a Christian who is about looking to blame everyone and everything else for why it is so hard for me to walk in the steps of Jesus. I become a Christian who can't seem to find a church that takes care of me. The irony is this discovery is that I become the type of Christian that I blamed and detested. I have become the very stumbling block that I blamed for inhibiting my ability to consume in Christianity.
I end up at the end of a spiritual road I never intended to take. Knowing in my heart that I am far away from the example of Jesus washing feet. Feeding others. Denying self. Absorbing the sin and selfishness of others.
And so I find myself in a place that calls me to both a realization and decision. The realization is that I have sinned. I have walked away from the promises I made when I was buried with Christ. I sit and reflect on all the self-oriented moments that led me to this place and know that at heart I am guilty of trying to resurrect myself. Instead of being raised in the power and love of Jesus, I am acting out my consumeristic-habits. I know deep in my soul that Jesus didn’t walk like this. Didn’t talk like this. Didn’t make the Way about himself. I hear David say "against You and You only have I sinned" and realize that I was trying to make myself the You.
When we make the mental and spiritual shift from life with Christ being about doing HIS will to making Christ or His Body about making me feel better – we have done something very dangerous. We have placed God’s Son and God’s church in the business of working for us. And it can steal the very joy and peace that we were looking for. But our consumerism-driven minds won’t easily let us kneel before the cross and accept Him as Lord over this part of our lives.
So how do I get back THERE? Back over on the path that Jesus walks? At my house – it meant I having to make some rather difficult decisions. Decisions that I knew were right – but they were still hard. I have to remove myself from all the self-driven stuff. Turn my consumerism into something that will bless others instead of trying to fulfill and bless myself.
Time to make some decisions in my life.
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel,
without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.
This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved - and that by God.
For it is has been granted to you on behalf of Christ
not only to believe on him,
but also to suffer for him,
since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
(Paul, to the church at Philippi)