Reality For The Rest Of Us
“Christianity is always just one generation away from extinction. If we fail to reproduce ourselves and pass the torch of life into the hands of the next generation, Christianity will be over within just one generation. Yet because of the power of multiplication, we are also one generation away from worldwide fulfillment of the Great Commission. The choice is ours.” [i]
One thing I am confident about is “What people believe matters.” [i] How we authentically live out those beliefs is even more important. As the quote from the title page of this Epilogue indicates, there are those who continue to forecast the imminence of the all or nothing, now or never view of the current state of Christianity. Although I appreciate the pundit’s sense of importance, an unbridled sense of urgency may engender an even more confusing state of unnecessary hysteria. It’s time to get real and confront the cold, hard reality: “We Christians cannot continue to avoid knowing what we already know: that something is rotten in the state of our religion.”[ii]
There are those who forecast that Christianity in the West will continue to drown by clinging to a lifeboat with a breached hull. Yes, of course, there are vested interests who are attempting to float that boat again by bailing faster, applying a new paint job, equipping it with lights, visual displays and new sounds. The fact is it’s still a breached hull. “Maybe we don’t need a new, improved version of what already hasn’t worked in the past.” [iii] Perhaps God never intended us to experience relationship with Him seated safely in a boat of our own making, bobbing serenely on the surface of the sea of faith. Is it possible that He reveals Himself to us when we are thrashing about with others in the everyday currents of life? I hope this book helped you appreciate the essence of this distinct possibility.
This book is organized into four sections than contain an expression that includes the word what. As I navigate through life, I routinely hear people say; “Now what? Say what? So what! You what?…Whatever.” In this sense, whatever refers to apathy about the Someone who is seemingly out there somewhere. As the decline of Christianity in the western developed world continues to be reported by the experts, I am unwilling to be caught up in the apathy polluted waters of whatever. In writing this book, I’ve tried to illuminate how my God has revealed Himself to me in the easily overlooked what of the everyday. This book chronicles my experience that “He is in the whatever that scares me, that is too far from me, that I’d never join. He touches the one’s that make me want to wash my hands.” [iv] And by touching them, and allowing them to touch my life, He has revealed Himself to me in ways I never realized until I made an intentional decision to explore the visible presence of God in my own life, through my interaction with others in the everyday. You see, mine is the God of the whenever, whomever, however, wherever…whatever. I believe God is inviting us to move out beyond the confines of the safe harbors named when (Sunday), what (spiritual entertainment), why (tradition, routine, guilt or ritual), how (sermons and songs) and where (church) we have come to expect to find Him.
For some who have read this book, you might think that your life is dull and mundane compared to the cast of characters and experiences I have shared with you in these pages. You’re wrong. You simply haven’t thought intentionally about how God has attempted to reveal Himself to you with the ordinary folks He has placed in your path on this journey. Honestly, write your stories and share them with others. He speaks to us through the everyday…not just on Sunday. He speaks to us through everybody…not just Christians. He speaks to us through everything…we’re the one’s with the capacity to listen, hear, understand and act…to change.
Perhaps you may be one of those who believe what you’ve read here has more to do with outsiders versus insiders. I hope this book has provided you with new insights that portray “Jesus could side with the religious outsider because faith is not the property of religion; it’s the core of God’s reality. God begins trying to connect with outsiders through us. We need to dump the religion business and get back into a business we can excel at: the business of God’s reality.” [v]
One of the fundamental things I’ve stumbled upon during my ongoing journey toward exploring a reality for the rest of us is this: there is no them anymore. It all depends upon where you’re at, where you’re coming from and where you’re going. Perhaps the journey toward a reality for the rest of us requires us to discard some baggage…the burden of them. Actually, we create them. As another author suggests, “But to speak of “them” being evil and “us” being good, that evil is all out there and that in the warfare between good and evil others are either with us or against us, is also bad theology.” [vi] I know it seems counterintuitive. Yet, that’s the way God unexpectedly blows through the walls of the understanding I seem to surrounded myself with. I’m required to unpack and unlearn what I think I know. As Philip Yancey wrote, “Grace dies when it becomes us versus them.”[vii]
Listen to the following:
“Our boxes, our language, our finite minds are simply not big enough to comprehend the true and living God. We are most in danger when we think we have him figured out. How does God grow people? Often by reminding them how big he is and how small we are. By introducing mystery and tension and difficulty into life so that we might be forced to move beyond trusting our faith and religious systems to actually trusting him.”[viii]
Finally, I hope this book encourages you to explore, to walk with the God of More, Jesus Christ. Come to Him. Come willing to learn, to unpack and unlearn. Come surrendered rather than armed. May you forget the need to perform, for whatever reason. Come just the way you are. The following captures the essence of my prayer for you:
“But when religion teaches us that God loves the wounded soul, the chastised soul that has learned something of its own fallibility and its own limitations, when religion teaches us that being human is such a complicated challenge that all of us will make mistakes in the process of learning how to do it right, then we can come to see our mistakes not as emblems of our unworthiness but as experiences we can learn from. We will be brave enough to try something new without being afraid of getting it wrong. Our sense of shame will be the result of our humility, of learning our limits, rather than our wanting to hide from scrutiny because we have done badly.” [ix]
Reality for the rest of us…It’s all about us – God, you and me. I confess “it is way beyond me even to try to explain what God can and cannot do, or what God will or will not do.”[x] However, I have an unwavering sense that The God of More, Jesus Christ, has much more to accomplish with my life, your life, the human race and our existence on this planet than we have been led to believe. We are actually composed of God, you and me. Perhaps this book might assist you in beginning to live this possibility. I am certain that “We are capable of far more than we think.”[xi] (emphasis is mine).
I’ll conclude with the words of Isaiah: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”[xii]
Get wet! Dive in! Swim again! Swim like you’ve never swum before!
It’s The Porpoise Diving Life.
Author, Creator, Editor
[i] Gallup, George Jr. and Jones, Timothy The Next American Spirituality – Finding God in the 21st Century, Victor Books – Cook Communications Ministries, Colorado Springs, CO, Copyright © 2000 by George Gallup Jr. and Timothy Jones, p. 130.
[ii] McLaren, Brian A Generous Orthodoxy, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI – Youth Specialties Copyright © 2004 by Youth Specialties, p. 268.
[iii] Henderson, Jim a.k.a. “LOST” – Discovering Ways To Connect With The People Jesus Misses Most,” Waterbrook Press Colorado Springs, CO. Copyright © 2005 by James K. Henderson, p. 31.
[iv] Jacobson, Jeff So I Go Now- Following After The Jesus of Our Day, Trafford Publishing, Victoria BC Canada, Copyright © 2006 by Jeff Jacobson, pp. 108-109.
[v] Henderson, Jim a.k.a. “LOST” – Discovering Ways To Connect With The People Jesus Misses Most,” Waterbrook Press Colorado Springs, CO. Copyright © 2005 by James K. Henderson, p. 83.
[vi] Wallis, Jim. God’s Politics-Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It, HarperSanFrancisco San Francisco, CA Copyright 2005 by Jim Wallis, p. 143.
[vii] Yancey, Philip What’s So Amazing About Grace? Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI Copyright © 1997 by Philip D. Yancey. P. 172.
[viii] Erre, Mike The Jesus of Suburbia – Have We Tamed The Son of God to Fit Our Lifestyle? W Publishing Group – A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Copyright © 2006 by Mike Erre, p. 133.
[ix] Kushner, Harold S. How Good Do We Have To Be – A New Understanding of Guilt and Forgiveness, Little, Brown and Company Boston, MA Copyright 1996 by Harold S. Kushner, p. 39.
[x] Campolo, Tony Which Jesus? – Choosing Between Love & Power, W Publishing Group, A Division of Thomas Nelson, Inc. Nashville, TN. Copyright © 2002 by Tony Campolo, p. 63.
[xi] McManus, Erwin Raphael Soul Cravings-An Exploration of the Human Spirit, Nelson Books, a Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Copyright © 2006, p. Destiny – Entry 5.
[xii] NIV – Isaiah 43:18-19
[i] Cole, Neil Organic Church – Growing Faith Where Life Happens, Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint San Francisco, CA, Copyright © 2005 by Neil Cole, p. 105.