Messy Spirituality (It’s All of Us)

“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25)

In his book, Messy Spirituality, Mike Yaconelli reminds us that “all the biblical characters were a complex mix of strengths and weaknesses. David, Abraham, Lot, Saul, Solomon, Rahab, and Sarah were God-loving, courageous, brilliant, fearless, loyal, passionate, committed men and women….,who were also murderers, adulterers, and manic depressives. They were people who could be gentle, holy, defenders of the faith one minute, and insecure, mentally unstable, unbelieving, shrewd, lying, grudge-holding tyrants the next.”

And consider the men Jesus chose to be His closest disciples. “They were committed to Jesus and were ready to follow Him anywhere,” writes Yaconelli, “but they were also troubled by infighting, always jockeying for position, suspicious of each other, accusatory, impulsive, selfish, lazy and disloyal.”

Paul — author of most of our New Testament — sums it up clearly: “What a wretch I am!” John Newton, over his life, so embraced this truth that he began what would become one of the world’s most beloved hymns: “Amazing grace….that saved a wretch like me.”

Yaconelli continues, “Messy spirituality is a description of the Christianity most of us live, and that few of us admit.”

A preacher was visiting with a man about the subject of church. The man frowned and said, “I don’t go to church. It’s full of hypocrites.” Without blinking, the preacher replied, “Well, join us this Sunday. We could always use one more.”

That preacher had no intention of trying to sound smart-alec. He was simply stating a fact: “You’re right! We’re all a mess—come join us!”

To paraphrase Paul in his words to the Corinthians, cited at the top, “I’m a mess. But, in Christ, I’m a perfect mess.”

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Single Greatest Cause of Atheism

…“‘These people honor me with their lips,but their hearts are far from me.” (Mark 7:6)

As I was sitting at a busy intersection waiting for the light to change, I couldn’t help but notice the huge Playboy logo on the back window of the SUV in front of me. A few moments later, the light turned green and, as everyone began to move forward, I noticed something swinging from that same SUV’s rearview mirror. Yep, you guessed it: a cross.

I smiled and told my son, “That’s what I call ‘mixed signals.”

Years ago, during a Graduate Recognition Service, our pastor told the high school graduates, “Don’t hang a cross in your dorm room, or stick a Christian fish decal on the back your car if you’re not planning on supporting it by the way you live out your life.” Now, why would he say something so bold and potentially abrasive?

Because Jesus did — with force.

Few things angered Jesus more than being misrepresented: “[You religious scholars are] Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.” (Matt. 23:27-28, The Message Bible)

Satan knows well that “mixed signals”, where our faith in Jesus is concerned, leads to spiritual confusion, doubt, and indifference — and he’d prefer that lost people stay that way.

Author, Brennan Manning, once wrote, “The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him with their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

19th century atheist, Friedrich Nietzsche, stated, “I would believe in their Savior if they acted more like they have been saved.” Singer/songwriter, Keith Green, once during one of his concerts, made it real simple: “I’ve discovered what the world hates most about Christianity: Christians.”

Centuries before Jesus made the indicting statement cited at the top of this blog from Mark 7, David prayed, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight.” (Ps. 19:14) Translation: may my signals regarding You, Lord, be consistent.

May that be our prayer, as well.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick