In the gospels, Jesus as he begins his ministry, invites some fisherman to follow him. These men have lives oriented around their family business and life together. It says that they laid down their nets and followed Jesus. They even invited others to follow. They spent the next 3 years living a life oriented around Jesus. Then Jesus is crucified; unexpected. Even though Jesus said it was going to happen, even though they experienced the resurrection, they went back to their lives “pre Jesus.” They had hopes and expectations of what Jesus was going to be and what being apart of his life would mean for them.
Jesus has this great moment with some of the disciples, Peter and his brothers, meeting them where he first met them. He ministers to Peter’s unmet expectations and wounds from failure; essentially restoring his invitation to follow and now lead. Jesus commands his disciples at that point to go into all of their world and share the life that they found in Jesus and show them how to live that way; discipleship. Their response is to reorient their lives, once again, around the life they lived with Jesus. Today we live in the fruit and failure of reorientation.
Back in the 1980’s, the church out of it’s desire to be missional and culturally relevant, moved towards “doing church” in such a way that would reflect culture with the goal of attracting people to our churches. In those moments the genuine hope was that they would come to know Jesus and become part of the church community. This shift, set into motion a slow reorienting of the heart of the church.
Our culture today is all about living for oneself. We orient our lives around our goals, hopes, and dreams. We pursue the American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. My life’s fulfillment and happiness are all determined on whether I am getting what I want. We have grown up in that culture and our children are being raised in that culture. Our lives are oriented around us. Even as christians, deep within, if we are honest, our lives revolve around us. We bring that self orientation into our church experience and unfortunately the church struggles to survive based in its organizational ability to pull that off.
A few thoughts we wrestle with as we live into church: “What am I getting out of it? Is it meeting my needs? Does it fit my schedule? Does it provide what I want for my children? Is the teaching any good? Do I like the style of worship? Do I get along with the people who are here? I will give of my time, money, and talent in a way that I am comfortable with and fits my life.” So the church, in order to survive, now is obligated to meet that. Churches struggle to be relevant based on meeting the consumers wants and needs of church. I have found myself as a person in the church and as a person pastoring and leading in the church living in this tension. Following Jesus, life in the church, and joining God in what he is doing happens when it is convenient and fits into one’s life. The church seems always to be asking one to orient their life around it and that is in direct conflict with one’s life. For many this hasn’t worked and the church hasn’t met what they want it to be, so many are leaving, looking for one that will, or have given up on the church.
What if we reoriented our lives around Jesus? What if all of our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness was found in the way of life Jesus offers? What if I lived in my neighborhood as a follower of Jesus? What if we went to work as a follower of Jesus? What if our marriages and families were lived out of the life we have in Christ? What if our financial decisions were made from Jesus perspective? What if we allowed Jesus to shape the passions and interests of our lives? What if our life patterns were shaped around following Jesus? What if our involvement in church community was oriented around being the body of Christ and reflecting together the image of Jesus to the world? What if we did what Jesus asked of the disciples to do; go into our world and share Jesus and his way of life to others? To be perfectly honest, this is so counter culture today, even for the church.
This sounds overwhelming to reorient one’s entire life around Jesus. But what if we just chose one thing to begin the process? Betsy and I are trying to reorient more of our lives around Jesus. So we have begun to honor the Sabbath. Culturally Sundays have become just extension of Saturday filled with more activity. To honor the Sabbath is just taking a 24 hour period to stop the busyness of life in the world and trust and rest knowing that God is God. So we are stopping a 5pm on Saturday and only allowing things that are restful and life giving into that day until Sunday Supper. Rest is necessary for healthy living and God commanded it. We know that it is a necessary life rhythm to stop and rest so that we are able to live into a reorienting of the rest of our lives with Jesus at the center.
Our lives, the lives of others, and the world around us, needs do discover what a life oriented around Jesus looks like. It begins with you and I. What is an area of your life you could begin to “ReOrient” around Jesus?
Note: Great Reads: Mark Buchanan “The Rest of God”, Wayne Muller “Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives.”