“Religion is for people who are scared to go to hell. Spirituality is for people who have already been there.”
God was someone to be afraid of when I was growing up; someone for whom I had to perform. At the end of the day, His love for me was always in question. That’s what I thought when I was five. That’s what I thought this morning at twenty-five. Even as an adult, more times than I would like to admit, this is still a part of the way that I see and relate with God. And if I am to be completely honest, it has not only shaped me, but have shaped the way I have led in ministry. And yet, God still chooses to use me. Humbling.
We all have those areas of our lives – those dark places that are deeply rooted in us. I would love for them to go away. It reminds me of the parable of the wheat and tares. I would love to go and yank those weeds out of my life. But the words of Jesus to “let them grow together” suggests to me that in some inexplicable way, these weeds are so much entwined with the “wheat” in my life that to pull them out haphazardly would not be a wise thing. In fact, you might pull up the wheat too, if you are not careful. Let them grow together? Jesus, what are You thinking? I thought that Jesus wants to pull those weeds up more than I do. What is going on here?
One of the best phrases I’ve read recently – to describe what happens when you follow Jesus – comes from Shane Claiborne in his book Irresistible Revolution. He simply puts it like this: “Jesus wrecked my life.” (The author goes on to explain that Jesus “wrecked his life” by altering his assumptions and expectations.)
One way that Jesus has wrecked my life is through how I am beginning to see and read the Scriptures. For example, I used to think that mustard seed faith is a faith that wins and conquers in the end. A faith that starts out as the smallest of seeds and then grows into a mighty tree. That somehow, a mustard seed would produce not a mustard bush but a mighty oak or redwood or cedar. Now that would take some faith.
But the fact is that in this parable, a mustard seed produces a mustard bush. And that is what the kingdom of God is like, according to Jesus. I am sorry, but no matter how you cut it, a bush is just that…a bush. I want a mighty faith…a faith that is comparable to a strong, tall, TREE! Not a faith that, on its very best days, is only a bush. There goes Jesus again, wrecking my life. He is messing with my view of my life and how it is supposed to be.
I ask God a few weeks ago to mess up my life. I think He’s taking me seriously…