The patient says, "Doctor, it hurts when I do this." "Then don't do that!" This classic joke from comedian Henny Youngman provides a very simple answer to a patient's problem. If it hurts when you do that ... don't do that. Simple.
Last week, my wife and I had the blessing of listening to Bruce Bennett of CCP International present a three-day seminar on Biblical church expansion and planting with results to back it up. There were times when the room was silent as he spoke ... like you could have heard a pin drop. Why? Because he provided simple, yet highly difficult and inconvenient responses to conundrums in our contemporary Christian thinking.
For instance, the group was invited by Bennett to voice objections to his presentation; why his methods wouldn't work here in the U.S.A. One of the objections was materialism, to which Bennett responded, "That's easily solved... just give it all away." Simple. Difficult. Inconvenient. Highly effective if followed. My belief is that American Christians (and perhaps others around the globe) have somehow elevated the importance of the condition of struggle. We think that struggle is highly spiritual activity. We want to grieve, mourn and wail with and for those that struggle and grieve, mourn and wail over our own. We talk about it, cry over it, get therapy for it, search the scriptures for comfort to soothe it, and try to excuse it because it is ... struggle. The culture of struggle was no stranger to Jesus. The difficult and inconvenient simplicity of Jesus will break through the nonsensical hype of "struggle" to offer freedom.
Jesus is not into "struggle-maintenance." Jesus is into freedom. Jesus is into chain-breaking. Jesus is into burden-relief. Jesus is into radical-repentance. Jesus is into forsaking.
Imagine a church where every member had elevated the importance and practice of forsaking in exchange for freedom. Every story, from every person, was a story of giving up things of the world, temptations, sin, money, status, relationships, habits, bondages, addictions, and exchanged them all for the joy of knowing Jesus and being set free! It would be the tangible evidence of this parable...
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
(Matthew 13:44 NKJV)
It's the TREASURE that is to be elevated in its importance, not the STRUGGLE. Struggle is not holy, but holiness is.
Brett Heintzman is passionate about the spiritual formation of God's people. These writings are designed to draw us close to God and to help us live out of the riches of His presence. It's all about being in the world but not of the world.