Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Tyranny of Better

2010 has to be better than 2009.
I hope the next decade is better than this one.
I want to be a better person in the coming year.
Since I became a Christian, I'm determined to be a better me.

See a problem here?
Too many times when we think about faith, we think about how we can fit it in to our lives. We think: me + Jesus = better me. So, I keep doing the stuff that I do, just find a way to squeeze Jesus in. I rearrange my schedule or try to find some margin in the things I do so I can fit in church stuff.
Maybe we realize there is stuff there that shouldn't be there. So, we try this one: me - stuff + Jesus = better me. We'll make a commitment or a resolution to stop something, to cut something out of our lives and add something else. We think we need addition by substitution. I'll quit staying up so late and add Bible reading. I'll quit swearing and start praying. If I can just do that, I'll be a better me.

If you've tried that, and I certainly have, you've probably quickly realized that it doesn't work. You can't squeeze Jesus in somewhere.
(He doesn't take kindly to being crowded.)
You can't substitute Jesus for something else.
(He doesn't come off the bench.)

This Christianity thing is something else entirely. It isn't like the changing of the calendar, what's ahead doesn't have to be disgustingly similar to what has already come. In fact, if you dive in for real, it won't even be close.

Jesus doesn't bring change, he brings life.
He doesn't make people better, he makes them new.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17

The equation actually looks more like this: Jesus + me - me = new me.
We can't fit Jesus in somewhere, we follow him everywhere.
We can't substitute Jesus for something else, he must be everything.
It isn't a pick and choose situation, God doesn't give us a spiritual buffet. It's is a matter of letting go of what we want, what we think we need, what we think we make us happy or fulfilled or successful and embracing what advances God's kingdom.

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33

Following Christ is the ultimate paradox. If we want something better than what we are now, we can't strive for something better. If we want more we can't try to work for it. If we want to be great, we've got to be servants. If we want to love, we must realize we might not always feel it. If we want to understand, we must admit that we never will.

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