I read a great book a couple of weeks back – Renovation of the Church – the story of a church that hit the ‘seeker church’ line very hard and then (as they say) took a ‘jackhammer to their foundations’ as they realised they were creating a monster rather than leading people to Jesus.
Having been down that track (a long time ago now) I remember well the challenge of spinning all the plates and keeping everything running yet feeling like we weren’t necessarily seeing people becoming more like Jesus. They were busy – no question – but many were ending up as religious consumers rather than disciples.
One of the central themes of their book is taken from the story of Jesus approaching the lame man at Bethesda and asking him if he wanted to get well.
It isn’t a ‘given’.
He asks because the truth is that the man may not want to get well. His ‘sick’ life may be working for him and he may prefer to stay there. People carry him around… he doesn’t have to work… and to ‘get well’ could be a whole conundrum of expectatons. Likewise when it comes to discipleship. To ‘get well’ – to become like Christ – comes at a cost. We choose to forgo our immediate pleasures and sources of contentment and pursue Christ.
To get well costs but it is where life is found.
CS Lewis puts it like this:
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
We settle for sensual pleasures and temporal desires when God calls us to recalibrate our thinking and living so that we want what he wants and we seek him.
To ‘get well’ means believing that the rule of God is a better way than the pursuit of our own desires. We don’t always believe that…
Which is why so man of us remain sick for a long time