The Pendulum Is Swinging
To be a follower of Jesus is what I signed up for. I had no
idea that I would have to face the constant harsh expectations of other
believers. I guess I was mistaken to think that we would no longer need to put
up with our humanity!
When I was young we had a cute pheasant chick called 'Specks'.
We adopted Specks into our family as a very young helpless chicken. After
finding him in the long grass, we took him home carefully fed him with the aid
of an eye dropper for several weeks until he gained enough strength to get his
own meals. His bowl was next to Mandy's (our poodle) bowl and they would eat
together. In fact, to keep Specks warm when he was vulnerably young, we would
tuck him into Mandy's woolly fleece where he would sleep. Wherever Mandy went,
Specks would follow...he was unique and special. To this day I maintain that as
far as Specks perception went, he thought he was a poodle! In his little mind,
he did everything the dog did -– his first glimpse of a parent was a dog so 'why
not'. Come to think of it, why didn't we just accept him as a dog -– get
him vaccinated, deflea'd and possibly even breed him!
The answer is simple: Specks was a pheasant and would always
be a pheasant. No amount of dog activity would really make any difference...even
if he learnt to bark he would still fall short in a number of other areas.
Is it too simple or too complex to grasp that we too may
picture ourselves to be one thing when in fact we are another? Does the
profession of our mouth determine what we are? If I say to you today 'I am
great' does that make me great? If you say to me 'I am wonderful' does
that really make any difference?
When I say I am a Christian, how does it look from the
outside? Am I what I think I am? What is the difference between the average
human and a Christian?
Being reborn into a new life and purpose is something of a
mystery to me. If our decision to follow Jesus were to be accompanied by a
tremendous flash of light, followed by a complete 'external' change - in
hairstyle, accent (into the Heavenly) and the installation of a new personality
-– it could be so much easier! But it appears that God is not interested in the
idea of CLONING, or genetically modifying us to look identical. He deliberately
leaves a personality within us which is unique and special, while He goes about
His more specialised internal work of preparing us for 'His work'.
The beauty here is that 'His work' and we might think His
work is, will nearly always be something completely different. We may have an
image in mind of what 'His work' looks like (pulpit, musical, miracles) when
in actual fact, we are doing 'His work' every day we get up and go to work
with a good attitude to life!
How good it is to stop chasing the carrot being dangled in
front of us and just live! Too often I've chased an image of whatever....
In the past, when asked "Andrew, are you a Christian?" I
wouldn't even bat an eyelid. "Sure am" I would declare without a doubt.
Now I see it slightly differently.
Splitting hairs you say? I think not...it's a big deal
claiming any comparison with the Lord Jesus Christ. If it were just about
identification -– no problem. I am proud of Jesus, not ashamed. It is however a
tall order to have people looking at my life, my words and actions -– the
measuring standard being Christ.
The Scriptures teach us to let our lights shine -– as
opposed to talking about how nice and bright our lights are.
Nowadays, I tend to qualify my position a bit more
accurately. I am a believer and follower of Jesus, enjoying the journey. One day
(God willing) I think I'll even be a Christian (1John 3:2).
We get one shot at life, and I don't want to find out in
the eleventh hour that I have presumed myself to be something I am not, based on
a picture in my mind...where I think I'm a poodle but all onlookers can see I'm
I am not saying that we cannot find peace with God TODAY!
Living in the joy of knowing our sins are forgiven is the best bit. I am saying
that a lot of what we add to the process is needless and man orientated rather
than God orientated -– to the extent that we may feel self justified enough,
but are adding to our stress levels (and others) for nothing.
In several instances within Church life recently I was
reminded that we are 'becoming Christians' and do not automatically assume Christ
like status at the point we pray a prayer. We are really just setting out on
the journey at that point... Some of the most insecure, threatened people I've
experienced in life are within Church life 'becoming Christians' just like
me - thank the Lord.
It might just be small areas which let our team down...At one
Church this past weekend I made the mistake of asking the pianist to plug my
extension lead back into the wall (to where it had been unplugged) and was
greeted abruptly with 'the plugs are all taken!!' As part of the visiting
ministry team I should have been shocked and amazed to get that type of response
-– but nowadays, it's quite normal. Thankfully we are 'becoming Christians'.
Within half an hour the same person led the congregation in praise to God....hmm.
We went to visit church friends recently -– we don't see
them much. Instead of leaving their home feeling enriched by our short time of
fellowship, we had to endure two hours of forced counselling, questioning and
therapy. It's not that we didn't appreciate the help, we just didn't ask
for that kind of assistance and frankly didn't need it. In this instance it
seemed to me that a picture had been developed about us before we'd even
arrived, based on the ever present Christian grapevine....on a very sketchy bit
of information we had been judged and sentenced. Perceptions are only ever
perceptions! If I hadn't done the same thing to others during
the course of my career, I might not have understood what these good people were
trying to do. At least we are in the process of 'becoming Christians'.
In last months edition we looked at diminishing Church
numbers in 'Where have all the people gone?' Maybe another reason people are
dropping out of Church life is because of an inability to see beyond hypocrisy.
Once we become honest, we can confess that hypocrisy is part of all of our
lives, but initially, when we first set out as 'Christians' we may get a
little lost in all the excitement.
I've learnt in business that there are certain things which
are expected from my company. To fail to deliver on these expectations is simply
bad business BUT even in delivering, my clients never mention it or thank us...they
only notice when we fail to deliver. A good example is given of going to a
supermarket. If everything is clean and tidy, shelves well stocked, prices
clearly labelled, queues short...how often do you park your trolley to search
out the manager to thank her for her diligence? When we meet expectations no
one notices -– but, failure to provide essential expectations can result in
a long standing negative response.
In all of the Christian things we try to do -– the one thing
we should 'not be noticed for' is our love, acceptance and forgiveness of
each other! It is expected...and required, even by God!
Jesus set a pretty extraordinary standard, He didn't even
get sidetracked by 'the Word' (law) being thrown at Him...I think it will be
a lifelong quest to relax enough to be like Him. I'll just settle down and
enjoy the journey....