Anyone

Jesus doesn’t begin with a list of pre-qualifications. His invitation to follow is addressed to Anyone. —Not A Fan, Kyle Idleman

God doesn’t wait for you to reach maturity before he starts liking you. He loves and enjoys you at every stage of your spiritual development. —The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son… — John 3:16 ESV

Anyone. Even the irritating neighbours or the self-righteous church lady. Even the self-important friend or the horrible boss. Even the cheating ex or the gossiping uncle. Even the rude waiter or the person driving like an ass. Even the hobo who attacked and tried to rape an old lady. Even the gay guy with a chip on his shoulder. Even the friend who betrayed you. Even the person who took advantage of your kindness. Abusers, hypocrites, government officials, nice people and awful people, kids, adults, criminals, politicians, the person who hurt you most, your favourite star, your most hated enemy, the people you pass in the street, colleagues and acquaintances and people you knew in first grade. No matter your past, no matter you present. Anyone. Even you. Even me. Anyone.

How to accept Jesus’ invitation:

First, believe. Believe God loves you and made you for his purposes. Believe you’re not an accident. Believe you were made to last forever. Believe God has chosen you to have a relationship with Jesus, who died on the cross for you. Believe that no matter what you’ve done, God wants to forgive you.

Second, receive. Receive Jesus into your life as your Lord and Savior. Receive his forgiveness for your sins. Receive his Spirit, who will give you the power to fulfill your life purpose. The Bible says, “Whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever!” Wherever you are reading this, I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity: “Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you.” Go ahead. —The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren

Anyone.

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Confessions of a moralist

I’ve been fanning (v. being a fan). My particular fannism (n. manner in which ‘being a fan’ manifests itself) is moralism. Moralism is ‘a legalistic, effort-based attempt to be good’*. It’s thinking that you need to win God’s favour somehow. It’s thinking you need to be perfect to be good, and that you have to be perfectly good. It’s about you, not about God.

It’s misery. It’s frustration.

And you don’t notice. You’d think you would. You’d think you’d notice that church and other God activities become anxiety riddled. Suddenly you don’t have the time. You’re too tired. You’ll do it tomorrow. It’s not so bad, you did your good deed for the day – that buys you a few more hours of procrastination without inciting wrath or rejection. Sometimes you’re too exhausted even to come up with a reasonable excuse. Sometimes you admit, I just don’t want to talk to You right now. But tomorrow – definitely tomorrow.

Prayer becomes an excruciating activity. I’m not good enough. I didn’t try hard enough today. How can I amount to anything? What more can I do? I’ll try harder. Don’t leave me.

Do you want to know the truth? I’m terrified of losing God. Oh, I write posts to the contrary, but I’m really just trying to convince myself. Intellectually I know I can’t. God can’t be lost. I’ve been at the receiving end of His advances after all. He’s kind of like a stalker. You move, change your number, change your locks, change yourself, but He hovers. He’s a hoverer. The Almighty Hoverer. Who spraypaints “I GAVE YOU MY SON!” on your garage door.

But emotionally?

It comes down to grace, yes? Sola fide. Sola gratia (you see?! I know the Latin!) It seems almost too easy.

Could it really be that easy?

Well…

“Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s spirit is in them – living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.” — Romans 8:5-6 (Msg)

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” — Romans 5:1-2 (ESV)

“Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.” — 2 Corinthians 3:18 (Msg)

A part of me distrusts this simplicity. The rest of me? It’s hard to describe. It’s…gladness. It’s love. It’s gratitude. Realising (again) that God’s love for me isn’t because of who I am, but because of who He is (and He never changes), is liberating. I’ve been miserable, trying to consolidate my moralism (disguised as faith) with the things I’ve been learning – e.g., Luke 9:23, where Jesus talks about taking up your cross and following Him. But it didn’t make sense to me. Things weren’t lining up. (Maybe this doesn’t sound so bad to someone else, but I’m an INTJ. I need systems to line up.) Because from a moralistic POV, this cross sounds like a burden. How do you joyfully submit to God when that entails lugging around this hindrance, this constant reminder of how broken and wretched you are?

But when you look at it from the perspective of being absolutely loved by God, it changes. It becomes something different entirely. It becomes an act of freedom. It becomes an extension of His love.

I think I get it now.

My name is Liana, and I

— have been saved

— confused ‘stationary’ with ‘stationery’ until quite recently

— am amongst other things, not a fan.

– – – – –

*Kretzschmar, L. 2005. Ethics & Spirituality. Pretoria: Unisa.

Get some napkins cuz you've just been served!

Not A Fan (1): Too much “belief”, not enough “follow”

(Part 1, Chapter 1 & 2)

Not A Fan asks you to define your relationship with Jesus. Are you a fan or a follower? What’s the difference? Well, fans are ‘enthusiastic admirers’: they

“…confuse their admiration for devotion. They mistake their knowledge of Jesus for intimacy with Jesus. Fans assume their good intentions make up for their apathetic faith.”

In short, fans don’t want the same thing from their relationship with Jesus that Jesus does.

“…Jesus wants to turn our lives upside down. Fans don’t mind him doing a little touch-up work, but Jesus wants complete renovation. Fans come to Jesus thinking tune-up, but Jesus is thinking overhaul. Fans think a little makeup is fine, but Jesus is thinking makeover. Fans think a little decorating is required, but Jesus wants a complete remodel. Fans want Jesus to inspire them, but Jesus wants to interfere with their lives.”

Kyle starts by categorising the readers of his book into two groups: the “Jesus fish on the back of my car” group and the “Why is there a fish on the back of my friend’s car?” group. I think there’s a third: the “I probably should have a fish on my car” group. Those are the fans who strongly suspect their fandom but aren’t quite sure what to do about it, so they look over at Group 1…or RSS every popular Christian blog…thinking: Well, someone’s* got to know what they’re doing.

(If you’ve read Not A Fan, be honest: how many things could you check off on the list on p20? [7] I had to laugh at ‘Did you get a purpose driven life in 40 days or less?’ because boy did I try.)

He uses Nicodemus from John 3 as an example. Nic was a religious leader who believed in Jesus, but actually following him would cost Nicodemus everything, so he tried to ‘follow’ Jesus on the downlow. He believed but he didn’t really want to follow, because following Jesus meant commitment and commitment meant sacrifice. And belief alone isn’t enough – it has to be coupled with commitment:

“[T]he two [belief and following] are firmly connected. They are the heart and lungs of faith. One can’t live without the other. If you try and separate the message of follow from the message of believe, belief dies in the process. … Following is part of believing. To truly believe is to follow.”

Fans want “a gospel that cost[s] them nothing and offer[s] them everything”.

Jesus wants a “twenty-four-hour-a-day commitment that will interfere with your life”.

There is no middle ground.

*Jesus does. Go figure.

Everything.

‘A little epiphany goes a long way’ or ‘Your disorder or mine?’ or ‘Mind: blown’

Delusion. And botany.

“We don’t often think of it in this way, but there’s an important truth that needs some attention in circles of faith: A belief, no matter how sincere, if not reflected in reality isn’t a belief; it’s a delusion.”

Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman

What he’s saying here is that being a Christian should be more than lip service to Christ: if your belief doesn’t reflect in your reality, it isn’t a belief, it’s a delusion.

One of those ‘put down the book and feel dearly held notions tumbling down the abyss of epiphany’ moments.

I’ll post a full review of Not A Fan when I’ve finished reading it, but so far I can recommend it without hesitation.