And

We hate complexity. We love things to fit in nice tiny boxes. But then there are those mavericks who push the boundaries. Those people that inspire us to change while at the same time make us feel uncomfortable.

Do you know some mavericks?

The people that dare to not fit into nice tiny boxes.

Rebels with a cause.

Bono from U2 fits into this. He’s not a safe contemporary Christian singer, and yet he writes about Jesus, and faith. Apple products seem like the mavericks of technology. Stone Cold Steve Austin was this in professional ‘rastling. He was a bad guy that became so popular he became a hero.

We all know someone who just doesn’t fit the norm. People that eat pizza with a fork are strangely rebellious and it makes me nervous.

When it comes to faith the modern Church wants everything to fit into a nice little box.

We love stories of redemption, but stories of struggling faith make us feel uncomfortable.

We love when someone participates by asking questions in a small group, but we are afraid of truly difficult questions that don’t fit into a box.

Faith in Jesus doesn’t fit nicely into a little box. Jesus was a maverick that shook the religious foundations.

He rarely did things that made people feel comfortable.

He didn’t mind questions, but then He would ask more questions instead of giving answers.

He broke so many of the religious rules and yet He came to fulfill the religious law.

He welcomed sinners and yet He said, “Eat me” (paraphrase from the ROB translation of Scripture) in a sermon that caused an entire crowd to stop following Him.

Every safe box I’ve ever put God in has been blown up by God.

It helps us to feel somewhat in control to put God in a box. It helps us to feel safe when we know what we are dealing with. We don’t like to feel uncomfortable.

And yet Jesus is in the business of making us feel uncomfortable.

We often put a period where God wants to put a comma.

And.

Life is difficult, and life is beautiful.

I have great faith, and I doubt greatly.

I am doing my best, and I can do better.

I am, because of Jesus, seen as a perfect child of God, and I still sin.

I am so unselfish, and I am so selfish.

I am confident about God, and I have so many questions.

I am saved by grace alone, and I am working out my salvation.

I am a saint, and a sinner.

And.

God works with “And.”

The “and” allows for us to be inclusive, and flexible.

It allows us to be firm in our beliefs, and humble enough to admit we may be wrong.

It’s not popular and it doesn’t fit a lot of Church circles, but I’m very comfortable with the “And.”

We have all but gotten rid of “And” in our Churches. Any time something makes us feel uncomfortable we discard it or join another church.

We tend to have churches that focus on either reaching the lost or strengthening the found. I’m great with “And.” I started a church that is spiritually bi-lingual. We want to create services that engage outsiders, and challenge Christians. I’m just not sure you have to pick a side on this one. Churches are supposed to “equip the saints,” and Christians are to be a “light into the world.”

If a church isn’t open to outsiders than I would love to see each members evangelistic track record. I truly hope the members are out being light in the world and loving the world to Jesus. The truth is, today, outsiders often visit church. So…when they visit I want to show them we care about them. At the same time I want to step on the toes of the religious. Spiritually bilingual.

We have churches that focus on the gifts of the Spirit and then we have churches that focus on theology. These two groups don’t always get along, but I think we need both.

We have people who love small churches and they typically diss mega churches. I think we need all types of churches to reach all types of people.

Without the “And” we miss so much of who God is.

God does want to bless us, and He has called us to suffer for His sake.

God is a righteous judge, and He is full of compassion.

God is grace, and truth.

I recently heard Pastor Thomas Lane explain how light can be two contrasting things at once. Light is a particle with wave like behavior. According to really smart people this shouldn’t be AND yet it is.

You can be righteous and still suffer. See the book of Job.

You can have bold faith and yet still doubt. See one of Jesus’ best friends, Peter.

You can be saved by grace alone and still work out your salvation. See the Apostle Paul.

Life is full of “And.” Somehow God becomes even bigger with “And.”

It may not fit nicely into a box, and that’s okay.

 

 

 

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Rob Shepherd

I am the full-time husband of a wonderful woman! I love being married! We are proud parents to twins, Hayden and Reese. In my spare time I am the pastor of Next Level Church. I have a relationship with God and it is an adventure. Oh and I wrote a book. It's called Even If You Were Perfect Someone Would Crucify You.

One Comment

  1. Mary W
    August 1, 2017

    Wow, Rob! Great piece AND a lot to chew on.

    Reply

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