Easy or Hard

At times I get fixated on a theme or concept that I’m wrestling with. For the past couple of days, I’ve been wrestling with this theme of doing hard things versus doing easy things.

When asked the question, “Do you want to do hard things or easy things?” The answer appears to be a no brainer. OF COURSE we want to do the easy thing – it’s EASY. Why wouldn’t we? But then we remember that all of the leadership books tell us to do HARD things and since everyone wants to be a leader, our answer changes from doing the easy things to doing hard things.

I think when we say that we want to do the easy things, we are afraid that will be interpreted as being lazy or selfish, basically we have a lack of initiative or motivation. Conversely, when we say we want to do the hard things, that seems to reinforce the idea that we are selfless in someway and that our motivation is pure.

What if we have this backwards?

What if the easy way is exactly what God wants for us because it forces us to deny our human nature and become fully dependent and trust Him? What if the hard way is actually a manifestation of independence on God and a our desire to work WITH God instead of allowing God to work IN us?

Let me see if I can give you an example:

It would appear HARD to have to go to prison for our faith. But what if that is actually the EASY way because we are forced into a situation where we are fully dependent on God? It seems EASY to not draw attention to ourselves, but what if that is actually the HARD way because it’s not what God wants for us?

What if we have EASY and HARD confused? What if EASY is God’s way – no matter the difficulties we encounter? What if HARD is OUR way – no matter how comfortable that life is?

Press in or Walk Away?

It seems that there are always to clear responses to any situation.

The first response is that you can walk away. See something that you don’t like? Walk away. Are you bothered by the culture? Walk away. Did you get hurt or wounded or offended? Walk away. Is the task too difficult or too easy? Walk away.

Walking away is always an option. In fact, there are many who would argue that walking away is sometimes the best choice to make if what you are walking away from is actually hindering you from being complete.

The other response is to press in. See something you don’t like? Press in and make a difference. Are you bothered by the culture? Press in and change the culture. Have you been hurt or wounded or offended? Press into that hurt, expose that wound, deal with that offense and become better as a result of it. Is the task too difficult or too easy? Press in and do the very best you can with what you can.

Pressing in requires a deeper commitment to the task at hand. It requires you to not quit, to not give up, to dig deeper into whatever situation you find yourself in. Seth Godin wrote a book about this called “The Dip” – which talks about knowing when to walk away and knowing when to press in.

At the end of the day, it’s your decision – do you press in or do you walk away? Think carefully about this, consider the cost of both sides, seek Godly advice and wisdom, and then follow through with whatever decision you come to.

Do You Have to go to Church?

The simple answer is No. You don’t have to go to church.

But you do have to be part of the body of Christ. And the very best way to be part of the body is to create intentional and purposeful opportunities to build relationships with others in the body. That is best done through serving and worshiping alongside one another.

You can do this in a variety of ways, however, the simplest way is to discipline yourself to attend a weekly gathering where you have the opportunity to engage and serve with members of the body whom you wouldn’t normally encounter in your day to day life.

Is the Bible a Start or an End?

I read this quote somewhere, but I can’t find the link. However, it’s so good that I wanted to share it with you.

The Bible in Jesus world was a scroll that you saw someone reading in the center of the room, in the midst of community.

And then you all discussed it. You surrounded the words…you encircled them literally, physically…and then you engaged with them. Together.

It was a communal experience.

Picture all that energy swirling around the room, picture all those opinions, picture really wise people saying interesting and profound things, picture that crazy uncle rambling on and on and making no sense.

And then you’d come back next week and do it all over again.

The Torah started the discussion.

For many in our world, the Bible ends the discussion.

Age Effectiveness in the Local Church

I’ve been thinking about the effectiveness that age brings to the local church. It seems to me, that as leaders in the church, we fall into three separate age groups of effectiveness.

Ages 20 to 35
From age 20 to 35 – you’re learning and establishing what kind of pastor you will be – education, influence, success and failures. Lots of rebellion, lots of hard times, lots of growing. You can fight with older pastors/churches – but you aren’t going to win.

Ages 35 to 55
From age 35 to 55 – you are building the culture of the church. The culture is established by what you determine is important, how well you lead your church, how well you disciple the people in your church, etc. You are trying to recruit people younger then you and learn from people older than you while creating the church that God has placed in your heart.

Ages 55 and beyond
From age 55 and beyond – you are simply a caretaker for the next generation. They aren’t going to do church the way you want them to. It’s going to look different. It’s going to feel different. They are going to treat the church differently then you would. And you can fight it or you can trust that God knows what He’s doing by putting these people in charge. The worst thing you can do is complain about the younger generation.

How do you see age effectiveness in the local church?

Did God Abandon Jesus?

Sometimes I read scripture and and struggle with understanding it fully. A great example can be found in Matthew 27:46 where he calls out in a loud voice, “My God, My God, why have forsaken/abandoned me?”

Here’s the question that I have – is Jesus symbolically quoting Psalm 22:1 as a way of expressing human emotion or is Jesus actually stating that in this moment, He has literally been abandoned by God?

I would contend that Jesus, despite his obvious pain and suffering, maintained a high degree lucidity throughout the crucifixion experience and in this moment, quoted David in order to accurately convey the distinctive human emotion of feeling/sensing separation and distance from God. I would contend that Jesus cognitively recognized that God had not abandoned Him, but rather choose to quote David as a way of conveying to future generations the necessity of turning to scripture in those times of great need and stress when it appears that God has abandoned them.

However, there seems to be a popular belief that God actually turned his back and literally abandoned Jesus during this time. Proponents of this belief seem to argue that because Jesus took on the sins of all mankind and that God cannot stand the sight of evil (Habakkuk 1:13) and cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked (Psalm 5:4-8) that God abandoned Jesus because of this sin (Romans 1:28).

That seems inaccurate in light of Jeremiah 16:17 where God clearly says that He sees every sin and does not turn His back on the those in need (Psalm 22:24). 2 Corinthians 4:9 clearly tells us that we are never abandoned by God and John 3:16 would support the theory that because God saw the world and all of it’s sinfulness, that He gave Jesus in order to give us eternal life.

Here’s the dilemma I find myself facing.

I cannot find any scriptures that state that Jesus was abandoned on the cross by God.

I cannot find any scriptures that state that Jesus was not abandoned on the cross by God. 

What I can find is that God does not abandon man simply because man has sin in his life. God sees that sin, He hates it and cannot tolerate the sin, but he still loves the man enough to pay the price to cover the sin in order to restore the relationship between God and man.

I can find a primary supporting argument in Hebrews 2:14-18 which reinforces the fullness of Christ’s humanity. From this perspective, Jesus had to be made like his brothers, like man, in every respect so that he might become the high priest in order to make the sacrifice for the since of the people. This would seem to eliminate the argument that God would not abandon man, but would abandon Jesus simply because Jesus was God’s son. Or that Jesus had some supernatural strength of some sort that allowed God to abandon Jesus, but not man. In order to make the sacrifice for our sins, Jesus had to be made like man in every respect.

I can also find a primary supporting argument in Hebrews 4:14-16 which reinforces the affirmation that because of the fullness of His humanity, Jesus has experienced every temptation that we have, including the temptation of believing that God has abandoned Him in his time of need, but that He experienced these temptations and did not sin. 

A secondary supporting argument to this can be found in Romans 14:23 arguing that temptation to lose faith in God is akin to sin and because Jesus didn’t sin, Jesus could not have actually believed that God had abandoned Him otherwise that would have meant that He had sinned.

Therefore, based on on the primary and secondary supporting arguments, I believe that I can say with confidence that God did not abandon Jesus on the cross, but that Jesus, in the fullness of His humanity, experienced the very same emotional response that every human being does in times of high emotional and physical stress. And that as a result of that stress, the words that people heard was that Jesus felt as if God had abandoned Him in His time of need. However, the truth of this phrase is that in this time of crisis, Jesus turned to scripture in order to give Him the strength to continue on.

So, that said, I’d be interested in some scripturally-based feedback on this topic.