i really enjoy a challenge. in fact i thrive off it. i love it when something challenges me. i excel at the opportunity to win. i live and breathe for competition. i crave it and it fuels me.
let me give you an example. in October of 2006 I knew that I was going to be getting engaged shortly. well, to be correct, i at least hoped that i'd be getting engaged. the yes or no part was completely up to my girlfriend (now my wife). but when I went and bought that engagement ring in october, I told myself that i was not going to look like a fool on my wedding night. so i decided to get a gym membership and start working out. from october 2006, until september 20th or so of 2007, i worked out 2.5 hrs a day, 6 days a week. i never missed a day. not once. i ran anywhere between 20 and 30 miles a week and lifted like crazy. i went from 210 lbs and 21% body fat, to 175 and about 14-16% body fat. i did not settle for less. i made a goal and i saw it through. i was religious and psychotic about it. i had to be. it had to be all or nothing.
but after one year of marriage i find myself settling for less. i find myself being ok with getting in the gym three times a week and just doing a little bit of weights. and the crazy thing is, when I get in, i feel ok with that. when I put in my 3 or 4 hours a week, i convince myself i've done what i need to do. yet deep inside i've developed this deep dissatisfaction with myself. i become more and more angered with my lifestyle that i continually sell myself short and don't give myself what i need. why do i sell myself short?
i seem to have this problem in life. i find that i often sell myself short in many areas. let me give you another example.
i first went to college for the challenge. i wanted to grow and learn and be prepared for my future - whatever God may bring my way. so i decided to major in business and in missions. i knew that God would want to take me into a journey of ministry and eventually that journey would probably send us overseas. so that is why the missions part was there. the business part was that i wanted the challenge and wanted to expand my horizons. but after a year of college i just decided to drop all that and do a basic religion degree because that was what made the most sense. i am still not sure why I made that decision. honestly, i did it because it was the easiest for me to do. i knew the courses wouldn't be difficult. the major made the most sense. i convinced myself, "get in, get your degree, and get out." and now I sit with a degree that is pretty much useless. why did I sell myself short? i didn't get the true educational experience. i wanted to convince myself that I had the full experience. why didn't i just go for the real thing?
i've been thinking and reflecting about this a lot lately. that is, my problem of selling myself short. and i see this problem arise more and more with the church. let me show you how.
i heard just recently of a pastor talking about his church and their vision. he was discussing their plans of starting new churches and spreading the gospel. and his words struck a chord within me. he was saying how they want to spread out and small so that people feel more comfortable. he said, "leaders like big churches. people like small." and obviously he's referring to intimacy. smaller means more intimacy. but what bothered me was when he said this: "we want to develop these smaller type churches so that the people begin to develop a sense of community." now at face value is sounds great, right? but why do we need to coerce people into thinking their is community? why do we settle for less? why not teach people how to actively engage in community? why not demonstrate what community is? i think it is because we're not willing to put into it what it deserves. you can't get people showing up one hour a week and think that community is going to form. just because it is 150 people and not 700 people doesn't mean community is going to happen. why settle for a sense of community?
let me give you another area where we've sold ourselves short because of our "senses."
christians and churches are terrified of transformation. have you noticed this? we talk about transformation but we do nothing about it. we talk about how we want to see our cities changed and the kingdom of God to sweep across them - but nothing happens. have you noticed this? i have. i've noticed how people have been ok with mediocrity. christians have been ok with things stay the same. rather than go downtown and minister to those in need, we give our church a check to supply the salvation army with more clothes. and the funny thing is, we feel like we're being such a blessing. in fact, both parties feel satisfied. the rich christians feel good because they are giving and the poor feel good because they are getting fed. yet - not one is being transformed. by sitting at home and giving money we're convincing ourselves that we're making a difference. but we're not. we're developing a sense of transformation - without the actual transformation.
its true though. christians and churches aren't willing to put forth the effort to do what we're commanded to do. we've settled for accepting our sense of community. we've settled for accepting our sense of transformation. i don't think we can trust our senses. because as time goes on, we're seeing that our senses are more counterfeit. wouldn't it be amazing if we truly experienced community and transformation?
what is it going to take? how long will we continue to convince ourselves we're doing what we're called to do? when we stop settling for less?
3 hours ago