Summary: Part 1 in series Slowing Down. In this first message in the Slowing Down series, Dave explains that most people struggle to follow Jesus the Way because of the way they try to follow Jesus.
The Jesus Way
Slowing Down, part 1
Wildwind Community Church
October 11, 2008
Years ago my wife Christy, and Greg McLaughlin, took a van full of teenagers to Arizona to work on an Indian reservation for a week. After a couple dozen hours of driving, they passed through The Painted Desert,
with some very sleepy teenagers. Christy tried to get the kids’ attention. “Hey, you guys – we’re in The Painted Desert. Wake up – you have to see this.” Some of the kids didn’t move. Others stirred slightly, opened their eyes just a little bit, said, “Yeah,” and dozed back off again. They just wanted to sleep. Christy and Greg figured maybe it was something only adults can appreciate. Those kids missed so much that day. All this beauty all around, and they missed it.
I want to tell you a true story about a family hiking up a mountain – mom, dad, and two precocious boys. Mom and Dad walked slowly, taking in the sights and sounds and smells. They didn’t care when or if they reached the top – the joy was in the journey. They savored time with one another and the beauty that was all around. Do you think the boys had the same perspective? Of course not. To them it was a competition – a race to the top. “Hurry up you guys,” they kept yelling back down the trail to pokey dad and mom. For the life of them they couldn’t figure out what was taking so long. Sometimes they didn’t seem to be moving much at all but just standing around looking. I mean, looking at what? For them that was boring – the objective was getting to the top 1) so they could say they made it to the top; and 2) so they could eat lunch and then race back down to the bottom. Those boys missed so much that day. All that beauty everywhere. Opportunities to love and be loved by their parents and to love each other – but they missed it.
When it comes to the way we interact with God, I think most of us are like those teenagers in the van, sleeping through the trip and just wanting to arrive at our destination. Or we’re like Jessica, taking more joy in abstractly pondering our progress than simply enjoying the journey. Or maybe we’re like those two little boys, thinking it’s just about getting to the top so we can eat lunch. I’m concerned that on our spiritual journeys, we are taken in by our culture that tells us it’s about results – about getting things done – about getting where we’re going – instead of about enjoying the journey. That’s why I think we have such a problem in the church with people who say they want to BE holy, BE godly, BE spiritual, BE great husbands and fathers and wives and mothers, BE generous givers and prudent spenders, BE all these things – but who struggle to actually BECOME what they say they want to be. We are a society focused on BEING but not on BECOMING. There’s a good chance some of you are already sitting there right now thinking to yourselves, “Where are you going with this?” because you have been brought up in a society that focuses on results. I’m at the beginning of the sermon, but you already want to know how it ends. Some people probably feel like church would be better if instead of handing out summaries of the sermon after church we’d just have greeters pass them out when you walk in the door, do a little worship, and have everybody go home. “Just give me the Cliff Notes, Dave, and let me outta here.” We are be-ers, but most of us aren’t become-ers.
The problem is that this isn’t how life actually works. Life itself is not about being but about becoming. You were born a certain way but you’re not that way anymore. The difference between how you were then and how you are now did not happen because somebody told you how to be and you just decided to be it. It happened because you have very gradually become.
Think of the Christian life. When we refer to someone converting to Christianity, we often say, “Joe Blow became a Christian yesterday.” Maybe so, but he’ll need to keep on becoming a Christian every day for the rest of his life.
Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV)
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,
13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.