Summary: This series is based upon Mike Yaconelli’s book "Messy Spirituality" and is designed to cnvince seekers that God wants their Nitty Gritty lives
May 18 and 19, 2002
“Nitty Gritty…Meet Jesus”
Keith Miller wrote the following, “Our churches are filled with people who outwardly look contented and at peace but inwardly are crying out for someone to love them…just as they are- confused, frustrated, often frightened, guilty and often unable to communicate with their own families. But the other people in the church look so happy and contented that one seldom has the courage to admit his/her own deep needs before such a self-sufficient group as the average church meeting appears to be.” Does that resonate with anyone? Perhaps, that statement hits many of us or most of us square in the face.
For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a godly person. Yet when I look at the yesterday’s of my life, what I see, mostly, is a broken, irregular path littered with mistakes and failure. I don’t want to be Saint Francis or Billy Graham, I just want to be remembered as a person who loved God, who served others more than he served himself, who was trying to grow in maturity and stability. Could those words be yours? They could be mine but they aren’t. They are Mike Yaconelli’s. Mike sounds a lot like the weathered, bruised, battered and beaten apostle to the gentiles named Paul who wrote the book of Romans and repeatedly lets us see glimpses of a life that is nitty and gritty.
Mike relates an oft occurring dream, he says, “I often dream that I am tagging along behind Jesus, longing for him to choose me as one of his disciples. Without warning, he turns around, looks straight into my eyes and says, “Follow me!” My heart races, and I begin to run toward him when he interrupts with, “Oh, not you; the guy behind you. Sorry.”
I need to confess to you, even though I am a pastor and even though I think about Jesus everyday and quite often, much of the day, my walk with him is not a straight path. My path seems more like those “Family Circle” comics that always appear in the Sunday paper where P.J., Jeffy or Dolly meander around the neighborhood with a thick dashed line. Climb a tree, jump a puddle, crawl over a fence, pet a dog, twirl on a light pole and finally make it home much later than necessary and much the worse for wear. That is just how my life looks “back there” from “up here.” Evidence? You say? Well how about my most recent victory. Many of you may or may not know that I just finished my Master of Divinity degree and as I have explained in the past few weeks, “It takes a special person to cram three years worth of study into a full fifteen years.” Climb a tree, jump a puddle, crawl over a fence, pet a dog…Get the picture?
The question arises, “How can anyone who doesn’t have it all together speak about the issues of spirituality?” That is like Ronald McDonald explaining quantum mechanics or playing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony on a jaws harp. That definition might be correct if you define religion and spirituality the way many people define religion and spirituality. Most people seem to have the notion that in order to be really spiritual you must pray all day long, read your bible constantly, never get upset, always be in control of your emotions and are a close confidant of God all mighty. Why don’t we just add faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than the women’s missionary society and able to leap the church steeple in a single bound? You know the folks I’m talking about, you know how they sound, and you know how they act. I wish I could say it the way my grandfather used to but, this is church however and I can’t talk about a mouth full of anything or the smell it would elicit. I just won’t go there. So if we don’t fit that definition of being spiritual, where does that leave us? What about the rest of us who are beaten and bruised in the battles of life? What about the folks who are divorced, have a kid who just drives you nuts or into the poor house or both. What about the person who wants so desperately to be holy and righteous and just can’t seem to drive across town without wanting to commit vehicular homicide? Can the nitty gritty of your life and mine be pleasing to God? The answer is, “Yes, it can.” How do I know that? It is simple. You and me and every nit of our nitty and every grit of our gritty is precisely the reason that Jesus found himself cross ways with the “perfect” religious people of his day and Jesus was very clear that he saw through the smoke and mirrors of their lives. The shocking implication of Jesus, his teaching and his ministry is this…anyone…absolutely anyone can be spiritual.