God is good, and Jesus loves me. Both are true. Both make sense. However, both seem somewhat trite. As a Christian who at one point put aside (as opposed to abandoned) Christianity for several years, I’ve become super-sensitive to speaking in cliched terms about the faith I’ve grown to love. I would prefer to sit on the sidelines of certain conversations about faith for fear that by my saying something I might actually push the conversation backward, or more likely, I don’t have the room to expand sufficiently upon the beauty and complexity of Christianity so as to make it thought-provoking enough for my hearer that he might actually engage me again. Because Christianity is more than a single prayer, though a single prayer can trasform, and it’s more than an isolated decision, though one decision can bear much weight.
The passing of Dallas Willard brought about a number of tributes from his friends and colleagues. In John Ortberg’s essay in Christianity Today, Willard is quoted as saying: “I’m practicing the discipline of not having to have the last word.” This is a foreign concept to most Americans. We like to have the last word, and we find it incredibly useless when our conversations do not end in resolutions that can be defined. This is not some sort of plea in favor of squishy inclusivity of every thought or position that comes down the pipe, but instead, it’s a way to keep the door open at all times to anyone who might walk in and talk about faith or Christianity in a serious way. Dallas Willard knew the power of Jesus to work in someone’s life would be enough, so he preferred conversations in pursuit of the truth to simply being right because simply being right threatened true understanding. God desires relationship ahead of right answers.
I have become convinced that most Americans walk through life hardly giving much serious thought to Jesus of Nazareth and his call to his followers to pick up their crosses and follow him. I would say that most people haven’t thought much about him at all. I’m not only talking about non-believers or agnotstics, I’m throwing Christians into this mix as well. To think that someone would call himself a Christian without really considering what that sort of life should look like is simultaneously dumbfounding and the single most persuasive explanation for substandard performance of the church in being the church in the world and for the world, which desperately could use the pure message of Christ.
It’s in this spirit and desire that I am beginning this blog. I am not a theologian, but I enjoy studying the Bible in hopes that I may understand it in its original intention and thereby apply it to life properly.
“…whoever drinks of this water which I will give to him will never be thirsty for eternity, but the water which I will give to him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” – John 4:14
Jesus said these words to a Samaritan woman at a well in Samaria as he was traveling to Galilee. Based on what this living water is said to be able to do inside of anyone who receives it, it’s hard to watch our American culture that on the one hand is so familiar with Christianity (perhaps the cultural kind) give so little thought to Jesus and his call on our lives. This call and the resulting refreshing drink that comes from answering it cannot go out and return empty handed. We are to be the church for the world because there are thirsty people all around us who just need to hear a call to converse and to discover and to see who Jesus was and is. I pray this blog contributes to that understanding.