Monday, July 14, 2008

Journey to the Center of Faith

Do you remember the movie Journey to the Center of the Earth? We were promised an adventure like none other and that we would see things never before seen in a movie. They promised a journey that would forever change their lives.

We offer a similar adventure. We tell people that when they accept Jesus they will never be the same. We tell them that life will be different and then they go back to their same jobs, same houses, same families, etc. What exactly is different? They have a relationship with the One True God! They have embarked on a new journey and we are now responsible for providing the necessary tools and equipment to succeed on this journey. Why do 80% of high school graduates not return to church? The only thing they know is a religion that is powerless and a ritual that is exhausting. We have not shared with them the pathway of passion. We must show them the way.

In an earlier post I mentioned the potential off-ramps and side paths that grab our attention and massage our human wants and desires.

  1. We off-ramp into rebellion because we don't allow the control of our lives He deserves after having forgiven us of all wrong-doing, providing hope of eternity in peace, and establishing a spiritual do-over in life. We deny the need to follow and choose our own way.
  2. We off-ramp into ritualism because we become passive in our relationship. We let the teacher and preacher do it all for us. We go through the motions of having "quiet times" that are anemic which leads to lives that are apathetic. We become believers that someone else is handling that issue or ministry and put our spiritual life on auto pilot.
  3. We off-ramp into religion. The devil, if he can convince you of nothing else, wants you to be fully committed followers of the church. God wants you to be fully committed followers of Christ. There is a huge difference. The church does not save. The church does not eternally forgive. The church did not die for us. Christ is the answer. The church is a product of that relationship designed to assist, support, and develop the follower of Christ into maturity.
Relational faith is what the "straight and narrow" is to a degree. Wide is the path of religion and many find that path. Narrow is the way that leads to life. Jesus promised us that he came to give us life and give it more abundantly. That life is freedom found in a relationship with Christ not a religion about Christ.

How do we develop this relationship?

Get centered on Christ.
Communicate with God through a dynamic style of Bible reading and talking with God.
Connect with other believers for support, development, and encouragement.
Concern yourself with the lostness of those around you.

If we will discipline ourselves in these areas we become open to the Holy Spirit's presence and guidance. We become filled with Him. We are the bride. He is the groom. For this relationship to work we must submit to His leadership as he has graciously submitted his life for us.

At the center of faith is a relationship and not religion.

How can we transition into this relationship? What are your stories?