In August 2012, I was standing in my church with my eyes closed, praying for physical and emotional healing. I got both, and a whole lot more. It took me a few weeks to figure it all out, but it was my “come to Jesus moment.” And boy it was like nothing I'd ever felt before. The concept of a relationship with Jesus is enough to turn a lot of people away from not just church, but Him, and they lose out on so much in doing so. The beginning of this relationship was like the start of an amazing romance, really! I dove in, head first. I couldn't wait to finish my work day and get home so I could pray and spend time in His glorious presence. I'd go on long runs and see every twig and root as a piece of art that He strategically placed before me to revel in. In fact, my wife called this period “growing like a weed,” such was the spurt of my maturation. It was like I had glasses on that made everything look different. The content of what I was ingesting in all aspects of my life now had a code and even after counting up the cost, I was all in for Christ. No contest. The decisions I made, I asked Him before I made them. The greatest thing about this new romance was that I had no manual on how to treat it, didn't need one. Love unconditionally and the honeymoon would last forever, I idealistically thought. I had no one telling me how to love Him, I just felt it and acted my life out accordingly. I had no idealogical litmus test to measure up to, I had never felt more liberated or invigorated. Of course the more you get of a good thing, the more you want. An obvious extension of this love is being in community with like-minded people. Subsequently, one becomes more involved in the Christian world. Before I go any further, I want to state that I love my community, I have learned so much about humility and being myself—and giving more of myself to others—through them. In the beginning of this part of the journey, I started hearing a certain parlance that was new and intriguing. Jesus is awesome and now He was giving me this world of eloquent, purposeful people. I started reading certain authors and blogs, listening to certain speakers and immersing myself in contemporary worship music a lot more. Good times for sure. Maybe I was slightly deluded, but I was convinced that this fellowship would always be rosy and free from the usual dramas of life. After all, we're Christians and we're so awesome. We don't gossip or put ourselves above anyone else. Wrong! People are still flesh and blood. (Earlier in the year I was at a worship team meeting for our church and my friend Ben, who is super-talented and an all-round amazing young guy, was reflecting on becoming the team leader in his early twenties. He mentioned that some disagreements between personalities during his tenure—petty squabbles without even a semblance of solid foundation—had led to people not only walking away from the church, but from faith also!) In this Christian world there are pastors and conference speakers that are revered more than God Himself. Seriously, people know what a certain guy said or tweeted or what a well-known Christian worship singer does in his personal life more than they know about Scripture. It's like drinking treated water from the bottle when we can go direct to the fountain where Purity is gushing out endlessly.
The pressure to be like these authors and personalities is like saying to God, “Nah, I don't like how You made me, I wanna be like this other guy over here.” I really feel that by submitting to the way everyone else acts we are taming that raging love we had at the beginning. Following Jesus becomes about soundbites instead of sacrifice. In our youth, we were given crayons and blocks to build and express ourselves, no guidelines or restrictions, just a blank canvas to create. Our relationship with Jesus should be like this, too—curious, demonstrative, fearless. We chose the safe option instead of changing the world. Did he not say in Matthew 19:26?
With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
We become prisoners of our own image instead of free in His image. We don't need fancy tools as pillars to hide behind—the bigger the pillar, the more you lean on it. Nor do we need props from others for work we are supposed to be doing in His name. I am starting to see just how much better off I am when I freely let Him—and not myself or anyone else—be the author of my story.
[bctt tweet="We become prisoners of our own image instead of free in His image."]