Religiously Lost

Oh my ‘I’s’ were dotted and my ‘T’s’ were crossed, and I was doing everything right according to my religious protocol, but, I was missing the critical focus or component.

This focus wasn’t a thing or a ritual; this component was a person. I was missing (not getting) Him.

Until he had a private conversation with me and nudged me in my thoughts with the question, I was willingly unaware of my lack.

“Phil do you like me?”

I responded to my thoughts, ” I love you, Lord.” My mind went to my life that I built around church and service. I showed up with unbridled devotion, most of the time. I led congregations in worship, and I had spent hours in preparation for teaching and imparting God’s Word.

He nudged again, “That’s not what I asked. Do you like me?”

That question changed my life. I was religiously numb and conveniently occupied. I had to answer honestly, and my honesty bothered me.

God, who came to earth to bring people to himself, was good, but I was extremely uncomfortable with a Christ who spent time with untouchables, who went into places and situations where a ‘good religious person’ shouldn’t go. He did things that had I been present, I would have blushed at or hidden from, my religion wouldn’t approve.

He lived at his pace, not swayed by anyone or anything. Ya, I didn’t like the way he rolled. He wouldn’t get into my religious box. Shame.

Great questions change lives.

This issue changed my life. Maybe it will change yours.

“Hey there nice religious person, do you like me?”

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Let’s Talk

You Don’t Have to Live; You Get To!

Stay in Your Box (re-print from Blue Collar Theology)

I love you, ‘as long as you stay in your box.’

Jesus had just fed the five thousand men; also add in the women and children. That was a lot of food. He then started to thin the crowd with some tough teaching; he did it on purpose. Jesus? He doesn’t need a popular vote. Crowds? NBD.

Finally after the great stirring and movement, the slipping away of shadows, he looks at his disciples and says, “Are you going to leave to?” My translation said it this way, “Phil do you like me?” Oh not literally, but that was the question that confronted me. I responded with my best ‘christianeze,’ “I love you, Lord…” I was already onto the second stanza, “…and I lift my voice…” and the Lord interrupted, “That’s not what I asked. Phil do you like me?”

Caught and cornered, I was just like the 5000 ‘taste and see’ ‘stand and watch’ and ‘be amazed’ crowd. I immediately was uncomfortable with this unboxed Jesus/God. I couldn’t point at the Pharisees, I was struggling with the same Jesus who doesn’t care about my rules or protocol. He was cutting with the question. He still is.

As long as I could enjoy, watch and predict a miracle, as long as I could stay at a safe distance, ‘did I say predictable distance?’ As long as my religious, feel good rhythm went uninterrupted, then, I was all in.

In a moment there was no box, no sterile wrap no full stomach bringing on the yawns, there was just the super, simple, transparent, vulnerable Jesus. “Do you like me? Yes or no?

The only option is reciprocating transparency.

A God without a box, people that love without a condition or stipulating labels? Maybe we could start a movement.