“Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die.”
Can I be honest with you? I mean, we don’t really know each other. All we have is this binary relationship which social science does not seem to put much stock in. Well, if you insist. Straight up, I’m a flaming hypocrite.
This word hurts. It assaults me to my very core, but there’s no escaping the facts. You see, I designate myself as a “follower” of Christ to all who know me. I believe that He should be the center of my universe, the ultimate guide to who I am and what I do. But if I am to be honest, I really live quite the autonomous life where I am comfortable and satisfied in my walk with Him.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not getting crazy with an anathema lifestyle, I’m just busy. Preoccupied. Distracted. Content. American-minded a.k.a. self-absorbed and self-made. I am inebriated with “calls of lovers less wild,” as Derek Webb says. The pretenses I put forth deceive those around me and even myself.
Let me be frank. I have been doing this religion thing for over half my life now and I’m ashamed to admit that it can be somewhat easy for me. I know my script very well. I know my entrances and exits, my stage positions and all my lines. And I love the audience’s approval and adoration! More on this in a moment…
The Bible is a fascinating book. According to the most recent numbers I could find (November, 2014) it has been completely translated into 531 languages, with 2,883 languages having at least some portion of the Bible translated as well! Additionally, I recently read that there are between 50 to approximately 900, complete or not, translations and paraphrases of the Bible in the English language alone as 2009! (see http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-versions.html & http://news.americanbible.org/article/number-of-english-translations-of-the-bible)
And not only is it the world’s best selling non-fiction work and most widely distributed book in human history (see http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/best-selling-book-of-non-fiction/), but it boasts almost unbelievable claims. The Bible declares that it is God-breathed and hence beneficial for all of life (2 Tim. 3:16-17), that it is living and active (Heb. 4:12), right and true (Ps. 33:4), the source of life (Dt. 8:3; Mt. 4:4), and that it will endure forever (Isa. 40:8).
And what does our world do with this book? We ignore it, pervert it, burn it, mock it, reject it, so on and so forth. We use it as much as the Thanksgiving dining set and respect it as much as any other app on our smartphones. But did you know that it is illegal to own this book, the world’s most distributed text in history, in approximately 50 countries today!? If the descriptions listed above weren’t intriguing enough this certainly is!
Now back to that nasty “h” word I used earlier.
I personally have about 20 Bibles in my home currently, either partial or full (Old and New Testament) and what do they do 99% of the time??? Sit and collect dust. They help justify my “need” for more book shelves.
Remember, I noted above that I am a follower of the source of this text, Jesus Christ. And no, you don’t need to judge me. I’ll do it for you! It’s pathetic right?!
Years ago I could not get enough of the word of God. In fact, I had become so obsessed that I turned it into an idol (never knew that could be done!). For years, mostly after I began attending Bible college and realized how little Christians knew about their faith, I worshipped the word of God instead of the God of the word. Again, I never knew this could be done. I just naively assumed they were interchangeable, however, they are not!
So I’m in this weird predicament of trying to get it right, to find that balance of loving the word of God and God of the word but attempting to be extremely sensitive regarding my natural drive to pervert that pursuit into another expression of my pride. And so this is where I have been for a while.
To borrow some metaphors of the scriptures, I have struggled feeling thirsty despite living in a desert (this is literal too since I’m an AZ resident)! (Ps. 42:1-2; Jn. 4:13-14; 7:37-38) I have not felt very hungry either. (Ps. 34:8; 107:9; Jn. 6:35)
The words of the prophet Amos (Amos 8:11) come to mind, but the irony is that in my situation I have created my own famine!? Who does that?! Either a person who does not know better or a person who wants to die. I know better and so this is very sobering to confess.
Spiritually speaking, like many in the comfortable American church, I am killing myself and I know it.
In his book Has Christianity Failed You?, Ravi Zacharias said:
“I think the reason we sometimes have the false sense that God is so far away is because that is where we have put him. We have kept him at a distance, and then when we are in need and call on him in prayer, we wonder where he is. He is exactly where we left him.”
One last metaphor. I have willingly become like the wondering Israelites in the wilderness. Instead of wanting to meet directly with God on the mountain top I’d prefer someone else do that. (Exodus 19-20) I have chosen to circle mountains that my God has tossed into the sea.
So with that may I, in utter humility, encourage you if you feel at all the same way? If you started following hard after Jesus but somehow got off somewhere, beg the Father to reignite that fire you once had. Remember when all of this was new and you, like Peter, swore that nothing would separate you and your Savior? It was a higher high than the street’s best drugs! But then life happened. That one night happened. That conversation happened. That you fill in the blank happened.
But here’s the crazy news…no matter how disconnected we feel we can NEVER be separated from this amazing gospel. Bathe yourself in Romans 8:38-39. Just marinate in it.
Listen to the song below and be reminded how awesome God’s word can be.