For many Western suburbia Christians, there comes a point when being a Christian seems a bit dull. We start to wonder and worry why we feel that same nagging feeling we had back before we believed in Jesus– the one that whispers “There must be something more.”
Life starts to resemble the hamster wheel again. Between our carbon copy morning routine, the repetitive work week, yard work every Saturday and church every Sunday, something seems like it’s missing. Where did the adventure go?
When we first profess that Jesus is our Lord, He’s so exciting. There are destructive habits we are empowered and motivated to let go of and healthy ones to create. If we don’t, we don’t really stand much of a chance and the world will have its way with us again soon enough. There’s also so much to talk about and learn about as we are constantly seeking more about who Jesus was and what God has said and done. In a powerful and mysterious way, that never gets old.
The stories we read in the Bible never fail to produce helpful and insightful ideas no matter our situation or spiritual maturity. The Bible tells too perfect of a story and is too perfectly written to ever be perfectly mastered. Each chapter has not just elementary lessons like loving others and turning the other cheek, but also primary, secondary, associates, bachelors, masters, and doctorate-level lessons that take into account historical and cultural truths, and the semantic and linguistic secrets of the original texts. Just knowing how the New Testament cross-references with the Old Testament often boggles my brain. There’s just so much to dig into and so many ways to keep studying.
But at some point, we cross some kind of invisible line. There’s more to learn but we’re lacking that excitement and motivation to keep digging.
It can be pretty discouraging when this happens. For many Christians, this is where they fall away from the faith and give up. It was all just a quest to feel good and when the world’s ways look more appealing again, that’s where they go. Those who are determined to remain faithful might start guilting themselves into believing that for true Christians, life wouldn’t seem stale or flat. We must need to re-pray “the prayer” and spend some quiet time reminding ourselves how big of a deal it is that Jesus actually died for our sins. True understanding of such a sacrifice would never allow for this stale feeling we have, right? Maybe this time around we should learn Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. We should probably find a different church that “dives deeper” and register for a few Christian conferences nearby. We just need to review the information again and maybe add a couple new books on advanced theology and doctrine to get us back to that excitement and passion we once had.
We could do each of those things, but we’re bound to eventually end up back at the same place as before, wondering “Okay now what?” And it’s likely to be even more discouraging each time we start to recognize the hamster wheel again.
It’s as if we’ve been given a fancy, new RV. We brought it home, took out the manual and excitedly began learning all about the cool features and how it works. As we learn, we often step back and admire with thankfulness what we now have. We might even build a special garage or pave a special driveway just to protect it from the elements. Every Saturday morning, we get the ladder out and wash off the water spots from the previous week’s washing.
But eventually, it’s no longer the first thought on our minds when the alarm goes off in the morning. We don’t go out with a packed cooler and a lawn chair anymore just to sit and stare at it, telling all the neighbors that pass by with their dogs about how it works. Partially panicked, we wonder what we can do to return to our previous level of excitement.
That’s when we remember how amazing it felt to build up our knowledge and learn all the RV’s ins and outs. Maybe we just need more of that. After all, we can’t recall what PSI the tires are supposed to be inflated to. So we sit ourselves back down at the kitchen table and start reading the manual again. This time, we study all the footnotes and memorize all the charts and graphs to pick up new insights and understandings.
That works for a little while, but not for long. Why? Because it’s not the manual that offers the excitement we’re looking for. That was meant to be found in the freedom and adventure that our new RV allows us to go out and experience.
Most of the directions we’ve been reading from the kitchen table as we look through the front bay window at the RV talk about what to do with the RV while it’s not in a driveway. They’re directions meant to be taken with you while you’re out on the open road– out living what the RV represents.
As we mature and God’s history lessons get slightly less exciting, we need to recognize and invite the often-neglected part of the Trinity to have an active role in our lives. The Holy Spirit isn’t just a feeling that directs you to what book of the Bible to start reading next. Many Christians are so wrapped up in learning about Jesus and God’s character from the past that they don’t consider God’s Spirit as the current form and character of God in our lives. Reading and learning about Him is important, but we can’t forget to live with Him in the present as well– to offer Him our whole lives rather than just some reflection time in the morning or evening.
When we first decided to follow Christ, there was definitely some research and preparations that needed to be done. We needed to understand more about the story of who Jesus has been before we were ready for the current story of what He is doing all around us every day.
We bring with us who God has been, which will never be contradicted. But we go forward also with who He is and what He’s doing right now in our own hearts– direction that is given by His Spirit.
Take the book of Acts, for example. It’s essentially the story of how the church as we know it began. It details individuals within the church and what God did through them, and it describes their life that was lived for His glory. We should be living in a way that there could be a chapter in Acts about our life. Whether it’s written there or not, every Christian’s life story is part of the Bible because God is doing just as much now in us as He did back then.
Actually following Christ is more than a history lesson. It’s an unpredictable, unparalleled adventure. It will take us places we never imagined ourselves going and leave us in complete awe of how much more real He is than any book or manual we can read about Him.
reference: Acts 8:1-8