I don’t wanna go to school

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Peter Pan is a great story. In the Broadway Musical version there’s a song in which the main character insists, “I won’t grow up. I don’t wanna go to school; just to learn to be a parrot, and recite a silly rule.” Aside from flight, fighting pirates, visiting mermaids and traveling to a distant place that exists beyond the second star to the right, this story line is really familiar.

JeffWhitesideI’ve met lots of people who don’t want to grow up. You don’t have to attend a class or a family reunion to meet them; however it is entertaining to see some people live in denial that life has continued since they were cool. Change is scary. It requires confidence; and that confidence seems to be the characteristic that so many of us deny.

I don’t know why so many Christians are afraid of change. It seems as though we’d rather remain immobile. However, …we’re being transformed into the image of Jesus daily, the whisperings of the Holy Spirit should make us familiar to following his directions, our gift-sets exist for the purpose of benefiting the changing needs of the church. And if we indeed follow Jesus Christ with our lives, it should mean that we have made ourselves available to follow God’s directions. Christians living in denial that the world needs innovation, that how we deliver information about the good news (gospel) may be fine-tuned to meet the needs of today’s changing culture.

I met a friendly couple just yesterday who seemed honestly upset that the world was different than it was when they were young. They identified this change as completely negative. Technology was bad, cultural change was bad, immigrants were bad, what was learned in public schools was bad, the government was bad… I imagine they thought Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ album was bad, too. I suspect they’d enjoy reliving the 1960s all over again in a perpetual ‘Ground Hog Day’ sort of way.

But growth and change is foundational to life. Any student of literature will tell you that characters who do not grow during the course of a story are considered flat and static. It’s not a compliment to be undeveloping, whether your name is Peter Pan or it it’s Peter Gunn. It is not admirable to go through an experience and not learn and grow from having gone through it.

Perhaps it’s good to be reminded that our faith needs to change. It’s one thing to have child-like faith. It’s another to have a child-like behaviors. We need to grow with the times, assume responsibilities, adapt to what comes our way, and most of all, heed the call of our God who wants us to serve and stretch, obey and respond, and ultimately learn and grow.

When saying you love Jesus isn’t enough

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This week, one of our fellow bloggers, Bob Trube, spoke to our congregation this past Sunday on John 8:31-49.  He brought out a phrase that I have heard numerous times.  “I love Jesus, but it’s the church that I hate.”  Powerful words are they not?  Have you heard that before?  Maybe you have even stated it yourself a time or two.

mattI know it is a phrase that I have said more than once.  Sometimes our view of Jesus and the church can be so radically different.  Jesus is to be loving.  Some in the church can hate.  Jesus is to welcome all.  Sometimes the church denies people access into their “click” because they have different opinions, thoughts, political views or even look different.  Jesus is to be accepting of us just the way we are.  The church tells us we have to be like them or go to hell.

Here is the issue I have with what I have just stated, although some of these statements may be true, they are not true of every church.  I also think that although Jesus is loving, welcoming and accepting of us coming to Him just as we are, it does not mean He will not want us to change.

Mark 1:15 says,  “The time has come,” he said.  “The kingdom of God has come near.  Repent and believe the good news!”  (NIV).  These are the words of Jesus.  Notice that He says repent first.  Repent is to turn around.  To do a 180.  To change.  To be different than you once were…then believe.  We often flip these in their order.  When we do so we often never get to the repent part because we think that the belief is enough.  Yet Jesus calls those who believe in Him to a lifestyle change.

In today’s passage as Jesus confronts the believers that He is talking to, they are angry when he tells them that they are not acting upon what they know is right.  He tells them they are still slaves to their sin (v. 34-38).  He tells them that they need to change their ways.  This is the part of Christianity that EVERYONE has a problem with.  If we could all just live the exact same lifestyle as before we came to Christ, then all would be good right?  Yet, Jesus (and the church) demands more of us.  Saying you love Jesus is just one of the first steps in the process.

So are we changing?  Are we being transformed by Christ?  Are we as the church living to the example that Christ called us to?  We are all sinners in need of His grace.  We all need His forgiveness.  We are all no better than another.  Jesus does love us all, desires to welcome us all into His kingdom and is accepting of us just as we are when we come to Him.  I hope you will consider these things if you are a part of the church or not.  But make sure there is more to it.  Jesus does desire us to change and grow.  If we don’t then what is the point?