Do you ever think it’s weird you’re so religious? You’re so devoted, in fact, you immediately started saying, “I’m not religious, I have a relationship!” (Non-churchy people don’t think in those terms, BTW). Not to mention the fact that you care enough to have Bible devotions emailed to you daily, just saying. You’re that person. It’s OK.
I’m a pastor, and I still have to accept the truth about myself: I am one of those Jesus people. I don’t know why I feel weird about this fact. Everyone knows this about me. I guess the truth is that when I think about who it is I want to be, “Jesus Freak” is not at the top of the list.
When I think about who I want to be, I look to “successful” people, not godly people. My Kindle is full of books from people that have achieved the success I desire. Individuals who are known for how much money they have, or their leadership abilities, or their list of accomplishments. Even the religious books I read, I don’t read them because these people are godly, but because they are the Pastor du jour and are famous or successful in something, whether it’s being an incredible preacher or being the senior pastor of a mega-church. I’m going to say it: bad preachers from small churches aren’t getting their books published, regardless of how valuable the information is.
Let me be super-vulnerable here. I model my life after these successful people because those things are valued by other people, and because pursuing stuff is not only easier to define, but easier to accomplish. Why spend time being godly when I can be rich?
It’s a constant source of contention for me because I don’t want to suffer. I know that becoming like Christ (which for me is true greatness) requires that I die to myself and live for him more and more every day. It’s painful, sometimes embarrassing, and sometimes lonely. It means that what I want is not the most important thing. It means that I have to live my life for something greater than myself.
Then I read things like this:
…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
— Romans 5:3–5
I know. Struggles make me better.
Here is the truth: when people can’t have real greatness, they glorify the unexceptional.
They tell you sex is better than relationships. It’s not, it’s just that having a real relationship is hard. Sex is easy.
They tell you that money is better than significance, when the truth is real lasting significance is not something you can buy, it’s something you earn from the strength of your will, and the sweat of your brow to make a real and lasting difference to the people around you.
The world will glorify drinking and partying trying to convince you that it is the same as experiencing life, when the truth is that to experience the world requires presence and mindfulness, things that are not possible for a mind that isn’t sober.
I believe that if I choose to be godly, if I want true greatness, I will not be put to shame. I will not be disappointed. I wake up believing that every day is hard, but I trust God, because God is not a liar.