Monday, July 29, 2013

My Disciple Updated

Back in 2008 I wrote a blog post about which of the 12 Disciples I identified with the most.  At the time I was really struggling with my faith.  I was questioning everything about who I am and what I believe.  I wrote:
Reen and I have been talking about which Apostle we think we are most like. We have both taken a liking to Thomas. I have always likened myself to Thomas in his doubt. I've been thinking about it today and have come to a realization; I am Judas. I am disheartened by Jesus. He isn't enough of a revolutionary for me. I am fairly sure I would probably have done the same as Judas. I would have sold my teacher to better the mission of the revolution.   (My Disciple)

I read that and it makes my heart flipflop.  

I remember feeling like that.  I remember crying for an hour after coming to the realization that I was not ok with Jesus.  I remember feeling like I was stuck in that situation forever.  But that isn’t what God had in mind.  He didn’t leave me there, and I am more than thankful for that.  

Today when I think about which of the disciples I am like I wouldn’t say I am like Judas anymore.  If I really sit down and think about it, I would probably be the most like Peter.  It kinda kills me to say that, because I feel like he was a bit of a tool.  The would speak and act before he thought.  He had a tendency to get an answer right, and then turn around and say something incredibly ridiculous.  

We see a great picture of this in Matthew 14:22-33.  Jesus just got done preaching and wanted to take some introvert time, so he sends his disciples ahead of him and basically says he will catch up.  So the guys get in the boat and shove off into the Sea of Galilee.  Just before daybreak, Jesus walked out to meet them
.  The disciples flipped out, and thought he was a ghost.  Jesus called out to them to reassure them that he wasn’t a ghost, and they didn’t need to be afraid.  Next thing we know, Peter has opened his mouth and said that if that was actually Jesus, to tell him to get out of the boat and walk to him.  So Jesus tells him to come to him.  So Peter hops out of the boat and starts to walk toward Jesus.  This is about the time his brain catches up with what is going on.  Peter takes a look around at the wind and waves, he freaks out and starts to sink.  Jesus reaches out, and pulls him up and asks him why he doubted.  
I don’t always jump before thinking.  But Peter really doesn’t here either.  He said he would get out of the boat if Jesus told him to do so.  I try to be the same way.  I don’t jump at every whisper of the wind, but if I feel like Jesus is asking me to do something, I am out of the boat before my brain registers what happened.  Often I have the same sinking outcome, but Jesus doesn’t let me go under.  

That isn’t the only thing about Peter, though.  Peter didn't always follow the blind faith.  When Jesus was arrested, Peter refused to admit that he had know Jesus.  The same guy who walked on water and traveled with Jesus for three years, denied being associated with him.  

I did the same during the time I wrote the post I talked about earlier.  I was disheartened with Jesus; I didn’t think he held up to his end of the deal.  I was ready to walk away and leave it all behind.

However, when Jesus rose from the dead he didn’t let Peter sit with his guilt.  Jesus met him on the beach of the same body of water on which he and Peter had walked.  It was there Jesus forgave Peter, and helped Peter forgive himself.  Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Jesus.  Each time, Peter answered with a yes that was more emphatic than the one before.  From there, Peter went on to do great things in the name of Jesus.

Jesus didn’t let me stay where I was either.  He used friends and family to remind me of who he is, and who I am.  He basically asked me if I love him.  Next thing I knew I heard myself saying “Yes, Lord, of course I love you.  How could I not?”  I am so thankful for his unwillingness to let me stay in my guilt and misery.  

I love going back and reading old blog posts, because it gives me the chance to rethink things that I wrestled with when I was younger.  It’s also fun, because sometimes I will type something out of exasperation that ends up being what God does.  That is what happened in the original post.  I ended it by saying:
I don't know what will happen. Maybe this will be the end of the Christian adventure in my life. Maybe it will turn out I am actually Peter; I have denied him but then he will take me back. I really don't know, but I’m just going to have to wait and see.  (My Disciple)

It was a hard road getting here, but I wouldn’t trade it for world.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Radical by David Platt

Radical by David Platt took me way longer to read than I expected.  That is not to say it isn't a great book; I just wasn't at a point where I could read it.  In my life there are times where I want to read a book, but it is like trudging through quicksand to even get through a chapter.  That is what this book was for the first year I had it.

One day, I picked it up to give it another shot.  It only took me a week to finish the book.  I love the message Platt delivers.  It is really easy for the American Church to forget how our faith started in struggle as well as there are others in the world still fighting the battle started by the early church.  Radical by David Platt really forced me to examine my own view of my faith.

Platt writes; "Soon I realized I was on a collision course with an American church culture were success was defined by bigger crowds, bigger budgets, and bigger buildings.  I was now confronted with a startling reality: Jesus actually spurned the things that my church culture said were most important."  I totally identified with that struggle.  I go to a rather large Lutheran church in an affluent part of my state capital.  As a ministry leader it is really easy to fall into the trap of making the ministry about the numbers instead of about the individual kids and their stories.

David Platt challenged me to really examine the way I was thinking about the ministry I was leading.  He challenged me to keep the words of Christ in the forefront of my mind when making decisions, and the book encouraged me to not be afraid of living radically; that was the original plan anyway.