who i am?

October 20, 2006

Hi everybody. 

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a 20-something who is trying to follow God.  What does my life have to do with Jesus? Does the church have anything to do with who I am? Does the fact that I say that I believe in Jesus really change how I live my life?  

I just read this book called Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne and it challenged everything I believe about what it means to be a Christian.  Throughout the book, Claiborne shares these incredible stories about his life where he does crazy things for God. He went to Calcutta to work with Mother Teresa. He participated in a sit-in so that a bunch of homeless families wouldn’t get kicked out of this abandoned church they were sleeping in. and he gave up his upper-middle class life in order to move into the ghetto so that he could care for the people in the inner city. 

 What am I doing for God? How I’m I different because I follow Jesus? What does my faith really have to do with my life?  

In Claiborne’s book, he asks, “if Jesus lived today, would he be doing the kinds of things that the church is doing?” I don’t think so. I don’t think that what happens on Sunday mornings has anything to do with what it means to follow Jesus. So where did we go wrong?   

And then it hit me, I have no idea what it looks like to really follow Jesus. The Jesus that I see in the Church always seems so watered down, so sterile, so nice.  There has to be more to Jesus than this nice-guy facade.  I need there to be more.  But what does Jesus have to do with the friends I hang out with, with my social life and with the path I choose for myself? 

I feel like God is messing with me.  Christianity doesn’t make sense to me.  Everything that I’ve been told about what it means to be a good Christian doesn’t really apply to my real life.  And I don’t feel like anybody is talking about what God really has to do with me.  

I would like this to be a space where I can be honest about who I am and the questions I am struggling with.  I don’t think that I am alone in dealing with all this stuff, and I think it is about time that the Church started talking about it.  I also want to hear what you guys think about God, life, direction.  No matter what you think of Religion, I’d love to journey with you as we all seek to discover who this Jesus guy really is. 

So here is your question for the day: What does Jesus really have to do with your life? Let me know! I desperately need to hear about your search for God. (ps. You don’t need a wordpress account to leave a message, so you really have no excuse for not commenting)

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8 Responses to “who i am?”

  1. Newton Lee said

    Good question. I think that the many ways that we live can be summarized in three sentences:

    1. Je pense, donc je suis (René Descartes)
    2. Esse est percipi (George Berkeley)
    3. Ho de anexetastos bios ou biôtos anthrôpôi (Socrates and Plato)

    The trick is to balance them to create a meaningful and joyful life.

    Cheers,
    Newton

  2. Gilda said

    Jesus has everything to do with my life. Although I probably should be in a mindframe of considering it more often and letting it really influence my actions more directly… without Jesus, my “life” would not be as it is now and will not be what it will be as he continues to shape me (despite my many inadequacies as I try – and often not well – at being a devoted follower).

    One thought though, in reading the excerpts from Claiborne’s books, I don’t think Jesus is necessarily asking us all (and/or all the time) to do “extreme acts” of worship – like Claiborne does/did. When God calls us to do something, sometimes it may be an “extreme act”… but often the hardest balance is finding it in the “mundane acts” of worship. I’m finding a discord when the question is asked, “Would Jesus do…X, Y, Z?”, and then trying to directly apply the answer to myself. We are all to become like Christ.. but not BE Christ himself. We are to be ourselves, just as he made us, put in the place he has placed us. So then, I’d have to rearrange the question to be, “If Jesus was a 27 year old, married, Asian women, living in 2006 with the education/ opportunities/ priviledges God has handed to me… what would ‘he’ do?” Basically… coming back to the question, “What is God specifically shaping me for and opening up opportunities for me to serve Him, worship Him and live for Him?” And that would be the place at which I work from… always growing, always being open to “extreme acts” of Worship, but not doubting him using me because I am seemingly living a “mundane” or “normal” life. Otherwise, I would never be living in the moment, always be looking towards the future of “great acts” and missing the very thing God has for me to do today.

  3. Dan said

    The Gospel Message boiled down is that we are loved because of who we are and not what we have done. To be a follower of Christ is to love others like that. To do so, we may need to seek them (others) out, but rest assured there are people who need love all around us.

  4. Jason said

    As you probably already know, Jesus as a person, and religion for that matter, don’t have much of a direct influence on my life. I don’t belive that Jesus died to take away our sins in the literal sense. I do believe, that if wielded properly (which it never is- power corrupts), religion “takes away our sins” by providing a life model. Throughout history humans have believed in religion for exactly that- they needed something to believe in. Some people still do- this is where religion stagnates. Believing in something just to have something to believe in accomplishes nothing. Believing in something as an ideal, however, can create change. The real missionary work of Christ was to help others, and in turn have them help even more people, to create a better society for all. I don’t know if I believe in an afterlife, but I believe we can make this world of ours more of a “heaven on earth” not by believing in a guy bleeding on a cross, but in the ideal that he stood for.

  5. Brian said

    I imagine living like Christ has less to do with going to a foreign country, living without money, or sponsoring the right causes (although I’m sure that comes out of a Christ-like heart and there’s no real reaosn it can’t look like that). I think a lot of people get caught up in emulating the lifestyle without examining the life. It’s funny, in the last few years I think there have been a score of foreign causes Christians were “called” to support and if they didn’t they would let God down: the Tsunami victims, the Chinese church, Katrina, Iraqis, Sierra Leone, Nigerians, Darfur… And not that these aren’t causes to get behind, but it’s as if there’s a contest about who can be the most socially relevant. As if someone might say, oh, you’re still focused on sex slavery in India, don’t you know there’s genocide in Darfur, you poser? And I just think, yes, your walk might focus around a cause, but it’s not about the cause.

    I wonder if people are sometimes more focused on living the lifestyle of Christ, rather than living with and like Christ. How trendy is it to talk about how Christ would be a pseudo-communist nowadays, like a Jewish Che Guevara or something, bringing a message of anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist dogma? He wouldn’t, probably. I mean, how much did he speak out against Rome? Not much. He sure spoke out against the religious, about those who focus more on looking religious than loving God. I like to think Christ would be some crazy hillbilly from the Ozarks, driving a beat up pickup truck and telling people to leave worldly politics out of the church, liberal or conservative or otherwise. He’d probably be angry that churches meet in stadiums or spend more money on lights and computer displays than some office drone might get paid in a year. I bet he’d be uncultured, and not care about Johnny Cash or Neutral Milk Hotel or Jay-Z, or whether or not he should vote for Lieberman or Barak Obama in the next election. I bet he’d hang out at rest homes, or with KKK members, or with sex offenders. I bet he’d piss off a lot of people you wouldn’t expect, and make a lot of people happy you wish he didn’t.

    I think that’s how Christ affect me personally. He identifies the biases and harmful attitudes I have about people and he opens my eyes. He helps me not to be afraid or hateful to people, people who are broken and imperfect and yet are his people, his creation. I think it’s not about what you do, not about what cause you support, but the idea that you realize there is a cause to support and it’s loving people, regardless of how that looks. Maybe loving people who are in the margins is difficult and requires you to move all about, but maybe it can be relatively comfortable. I think Jesus helps me realize that grace doesn’t just apply to those who will be thankful for it, but those who will take advantage of it. Jesus helps me move beyond my fear and do what I need to do to maintain and create loving relationships and fellowships with people I want to forget and ignore. Jesus helps me realize that I can do great things, even when I feel like it’s impossible.

    I don’t know, it’s hard to specify how Jesus has changed a life when all aspects of my life have been changed and are being changed by him. But if a real, non-lukewarm Christian has to live among the poor, or has to ignore his neighborhood to go to Bangladesh or somewhere, then that definition makes C.S. Lewis a lukewarm Christian and says that only the types of sacrifices that can be seen and evaluated by other people are valid. I think Jesus wants sacrifice and denial of self, but that can mean anything to anybody, that’s the beautiful and confusing part of it. I think Jesus wants us to look inside and see what we need to change. He wants us to figure out what the problems are that he’s showing us, and then ask him for the strength and wisdom to solve those problems. I think he wants us to pick up our cross, but I don’t think he wants us to figure out why it’s not as big as other people’s.

    Does that make any sense at all?

  6. Matt (Mateo) said

    Jesus tells us that unless we lose our lives for him we will never find life in him (Matthew 10:38-39). I often imagine that by telling Jesus He is my Lord and savior and that I would follow Him I gave my unconditional surrender to Him. I have a personal problem that I don’t like surrendering and becoming someone’s slave (servant) even if it’s Jesus. I like to indulge myself in this notion that I am in some way in control of my life when I’m really not. I fight with Jesus, trying to rationalize and barter on what he wants for me in my life. There are plenty of times where I just do my own thing, only to find that I wasted more energy complaining and going the opposite direction than if I had just sucked it up and did what Jesus wanted. I never win either because Jesus always finds a way to force my hand. I am reminded of Jonah when God told him to go to a people Jonah absolutely despised. Instead of doing what God wants, he gets on a boat and sails to the ends of the known world, only to get eaten by a whale. Fortunately for Jonah (and me), God shows mercy on Jonah and gives him a chance to reconsider and do what God wants.

    One way Jesus is screwing with my life is what I am going to do in this life. I actually don’t want to be in political science. As much as I enjoy politics and I am great at it, I am scared where Jesus is taking me. One of my only fears is I will fail at whatever family I help create. I know there are only so many things in this world Jesus is calling me to do to change this world for him and every single one of them is not a normal job and each is hard on family. Naturally though I tried meeting him half way, making concessions, promising this and that to weasel my way out of what Jesus wanted. My choices were my way or Jesus’ way and I chose my way. I don’t think Jesus looked too kindly upon that and I didn’t get very far with my way. The only piece of mind I have is that Jesus might know a little more about the future than I do and He only wants what is best for me.

    I read most of Claiborne’s book and in there he mentions when Jesus told a rich man that if he was to inherit the kingdom he would have to give up his wealth and then Claiborne ends up doing just that. I don’t think we are all called to give all of our money to the poor but I do think that we are called to give up everything. Surrendering our lives to Jesus is unconditional, we either do it or we don’t. In every decision we make, in every aspect of our lives we should be with the mind set that Jesus is in charge of our lives. What Jesus call’s us to do is as varied as each individual. If it means we go to Sub-Saharan Africa were AIDS is destroying the population, or talk to the guy you see by himself everyday, or give up the sin that hinders our lives and the lives of others, or not buying that cup of coffee in the morning, we are to follow Jesus in everyway we are told.
    Yes it’s incredible hard to give up our lives for Jesus and I think that’s the point. We naturally wouldn’t be doing what Jesus wants without him. I know I wouldn’t. If it means that I leave my comfort zone and contradict who I naturally am (which it always does) then too bad, I gave Jesus my word that He’s in control of things around here. Besides, in every instance that has come to past, what Jesus wanted turned out to be better for me anyways.

  7. Tanye said

    I think the author you read was the same speaker who spoke at the Catalyst Conferance this year. My boss/pastor came back thinking and talking about these same things you are expressing in your blog.
    It’s time for a change.
    Another funny thing. I went to that covenant church I told you about last weekend. You know what the services was about? Blogging and well Spiritual Journaling.

  8. Leah said

    I’m going to be like a third grader and repeat the question in my answer, since I’m probably like a third grader in faith.. ok more like a preschooler 🙂 What does Jesus really have to do with my life? More and more I am seeing that Jesus truly has everything to do with my life and that he is putting challenges and experiences in front of me to make me see that. He provides me with everything I need and he works to remind me of this when I am being my silly human self and forget that all I need to do is have faith and he will take care of the rest. He is persistent in doing these things because he knows that believing in him is the single most important thing that I can ever do with my life.

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