Open your mind; or, Jesus, teach me how to party

Hey y’all,

I had a post mostly worked out for you and was just trying to find the perfect image or gif for it, and then God came in and made it sort of into something else.

Gist of the original post: I complain a lot about not having certain things in my life without really asking God to do anything about it. Frequently jealous or comparing, I spend more time whining to God about things I want than I do thanking him for what he’s already done or celebrating the awesome things he’s doing in the lives of others.

Gist of new post: I don’t ask because a lot of the time, I don’t believe.

Now before anyone goes panicking, I’m not saying I don’t believe in God anymore or anything like that. That’s not it at all.

What I am saying is that the way I live my life currently betrays a certain lack of practicable faith about what I say that I believe.

The sermon that brought this into focus for me was none other than the most recent episode of the podcast Exploring My Strange Bible with teaching pastor Tim Mackie (co-founder of the Bible Project). The episode was called “An Open-Minded Faith – Gospel of Matthew Part 17” and while I’ve had stronger experiences with some of the other sermons in the series, it really couldn’t have hit at a better time.

I highly recommend you listen to it yourself, but if you want a brief overview, Tim basically makes the point that those whose lives are impacted the most by Jesus are those who are most open-minded towards Him, those who are willing to admit they don’t know everything about Him, their lives, the world, etc.; believe and trust in Jesus; and let him change and shape their understanding of their lives and world instead.

There are two things that struck me most about his sermon though:

  1. Jesus’ ability to move in our lives is not about us believing “hard enough,” but rather about us opening the door to let Him move.
  2. How we live our lives day to day is one of the easiest indicators of how open-minded we really are.

I won’t spend much time on the first one other than to say that I frequently find myself living that way. If you want to know more about what or why Tim had to say about it, I highly recommend you just listen to the episode.

For the second, well, I’ll dive into a little more detail.

Photo Credit “What if I told you…”

For this side of things, the phrase that captured my attention most was “Are you willing to believe?” Tim used it in reference to the blind men’s belief that the world they lived in was one in which Jesus could heal them, and later in similar contexts for the modern day believer.

Being a giant nerd, my brain went to Morpheus from The Matrix.

Because similar to the red pill/blue pill dichotomy, Jesus does offer a choice. He offers us peace, comfort, grace, compassion, help, and so much more. But if we don’t take it, if we aren’t willing to open ourselves up to the possibility that the amazing things He’s offering could be true, well, we’re not likely to walk in it. As Morpheus says, “I can only show you the door. You’re the one who has to walk through it.”

And this might sound a little mystic or vague, but really, this realization was/is very profound and concrete for me.

Because I have been struggling hard this summer with walking out my faith (see gist of original post) strictly because sometimes it is just really hard to believe.

Am I willing to believe God cares about my finances?

Do I live in a world where nerds could be welcome?

Does God care about my career? Do I believe that He does?

More scary, am I worth loving? Do I believe when He says that I am? That He really loved me first?

Based on my behavior, a lot of the time, no. It’s not no nearly as often as it used to be, and I’m growing in it every day, but there is growth for a lot more.

As I mentioned last post, this summer has been really strange. I’ve felt both distant and intimately close with God, sometimes at the same time, and I know that He’s been stirring things up in me.

Most of what I think that is is lies, things that out of habit, pride, or circumstance, I choose to believe.

Some of them are buried deep too, but, thankfully God’s got a big shovel.

I’m tired of believing these things that aren’t true. I know that I can’t do this alone.

Jesus, please help me. I believe that that is your desire. Help me be open in my life. To trust and rely on what you actually say instead of what I see or think.

And to bring it around to the original title of this post for those still scratching their heads, help me celebrate with those who are already walking, those who are already making progress or have great things in their lives. Just like an awkward teenager, I don’t want to be crossing my arms and grimacing at the one and only World’s Best Party. Help me to enjoy and prosper Your Kingdom. Help me to celebrate others.

Jesus, help me to party.

Where are areas where you’ve been open? Where could you open up more? If you feel like sharing, let me know in the comments below, and if you want more content like this, feel free to follow me or the blog in the sidebar links. Thank you for reading!

If I have not love

Hey y’all. Welcome back.

Musical Instruments Music Cymbal Hi-hat Band Drum

It has been a whirlwind summer.

I can’t believe how quickly it is flying by or how strange of a summer it’s been.

On the one hand, I feel like I have taken several steps closer to who God really wants me to be and what He wants me to do. I feel more confident in my purpose, have grown in my trust in Him (particularly in that He’s not going to let me go), and in general feel like I’ve found a sharper focus in my life and priorities than I’ve ever had before.

On the other hand, I have often felt like I was running or hiding from God without knowing why, felt disconnected, and been positively steeped in comparison, petulance, and envy (no really, it’s been really bad. Sorry, anyone who’s had nice things happen to them this summer).

Like I said, it’s been a ride.

But what all of this has really pointed out to me is what I now see has always been my missing piece: a full understanding of just how much Jesus loves me.

Now, I’m not saying I’ll ever fully understand that in this life. Nobody ever does, but as I’ve been looking at my life, examining, comparing (whoops), and meditating, it’s been growing more and more clear to me just how much I’m missing in that area. And if I don’t have that, well, nothing else I do really matters.

I think of 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3.

1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

I’ve always thought these verses were about intentions, like if I’m doing great things without the right motives, emotions, thoughts, etc. behind them, then the good I’m doing doesn’t actually really “count,” or isn’t as good as it could be.

And no doubt, that is at least somewhat true (though likely at least a little skewed). I think God does care more about our hearts than our actions, and intentions are important.

But, I think there’s another lesson here too.

Because I don’t think the love mentioned above is just my own, the love I can/do generate /have towards others.

No, I think it’s also referring to God’s love, the love He has for me.

God is the source and example of what love is. God is love (1 John 4:8). So if I’m not interacting with Him, not learning through personal experience with Him what love is and looks like, how can I possibly love others?

So many times I’m afraid to go to God, to accept His love and see what it really is. I hide in performance, in activity, busyness, anything to prove that I’m alright. I fear if I open up, I’ll be rejected, that when I need love and comfort, all I’ll get is rebuke.

But let me tell you, that is an irrational, foolish lie from hell, and I promise you that that is not true. All the times when I’ve truly let God in, He has never spurned, ignored, wounded or rejected me. If you’re afraid that’s what’s going to happen to you, I promise that it won’t. God loves you, deeply, wildly, and nothing you could ever do or have done could change that by the tiniest sliver of anything ever at all.

Which is why, moving forward, I want to walk more in that love, to open up more and more to this experience, to learn what God’s love really is for me.

I want to find that missing piece. To lose my fear and gain freedom, to know truly what it is to walk with Him.

Because if I don’t have it, if I’m not walking in it, everything else is just for show. A clanging cymbol, a noisy gong. Without love, all is nothing.

His love I have.

Now I just have to walk in it.

So, how about you? Have you ever hidden in these things before? Ever had a surprising experience letting God in? Tell me in the comments below, and if you want more content like this don’t forget to subscribe or follow in the sidebar links. Thanks!