THE LAST CHAPTER – SO YOU DON’T WANT TO GO TO CHURCH ANYMORE – PART 13
I started to jog early in the morning and quickly discovered it’s not a popular thing to do in my neighborhood. When it’s warm and cozy in your house, why would anyone want to jog outdoors when it’s freezing.
I liken this to my spiritual journey and how I’m able to build “comfort zones” to avoid uncomfortable situation.
We’ll explore this principle in the last chapter of So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore.
In Chapter 13, Jake has an evening appointment with Tito John at the park where four years ago they first met. This will be their last meeting since John is leaving the states and moving to Africa.
Their conversation summarizes the purpose of the story. Jake no longer has religion in his blood but rather has a deeper and fuller understanding of His blood. The price Jesus paid for us is immeasurable, a debt we could never pay. Though religious leaders and believers try to teach on “grace”, they often become enemies of grace.
Below is part of their dialogue:
“…You had two desires that conflicted with each other.”
“What do you mean?”
“You had this incredible hunger to know God and follow him. But you also wanted to be circumstantially secure and well-liked. Those just aren’t compatible with following him. We are safe because he is with us not because our circumstances are easy and trying to get everyone to like you only made you less a person than God made you to be. When you started following what God put in your heart, the other kingdom had to collapse. It was inevitable if not enviable. It is never easy watching people go through it.”
“But those are good days to have behind me.”
“That they are, Jake!” John said with a chuckle
“I had no idea how real Jesus could be to me and my family. I had no idea how much of my thinking about following him was backwards. I love the way things have sorted out. As painful as it all has been, I can truly say this is the life my heart has always been searching for. Even my best days inside of religion left me feeling a bit empty at times and always frustrated that I should be doing more and that God should too. I don’t have that now. Even on tough days I am grateful for what God is sorting out in me so that I can live more freely in him. There’s not a day that passes where Laurie and I are not incredibly grateful at God’s working in us and the people he is bringing into our lives.”
“That’s wonderful. Contentment is one of the best gifts on this journey.”
“And yet it is more than that. Before I was so focused on what I wanted from God and how I could get him to fulfill my desires. Now I just want to know him and let him change me so that his reflection can be seen in me. It’s hard to explain. Before I tried to act like a Christian. Now, I find myself doing and saying things that even surprise me. He’s changed me, John, and I can’t take any credit for it.”
When I hear or read that someone is always busy, I think about Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42. We can be like Martha. Distracted by work. Always on the move. A worry-wart! And without fail we miss out on the very thing that is most important.
However we should all desire the gift of hospitality but never use it as leverage for God’s favor or to make someone else look bad to prop ourselves up. I know we want to be a show-off and look spiritual but at what expense? I know we want to measure up people and force them to be spiritual like us, right! Only if they went to my life-group and my worship service 2-3 times a week then they could be just like us, right! If you’re ever placed in a situation like this, please-please run like the dickens before the hungry hippo gets you.
The ending of the book seemed more like a beginning. We see Jake get out of his comfort zone to minister to a group of Church-goers having a spirited conversation. After hearing someone say, “You should be ashamed of yourself, Sally. Jesus would never talk like that,” Jake floats in like a butterfly and stings them with this question, “You really have no idea what Jesus is like, do you?”
Thanks for being patient through this series. I hope you enjoyed the novel and will share it with others.
Have a great Thanksgiving and “may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13)”
Jeremy Camp – Overcome
Moriah Peters – I Choose Jesus (Spanish/Portuguese Version)
Meredith Andrews – Not For A Moment (After All) – Live
(The above videos are part of the post. I don’t have control of the advertisements they place on this page which they usually place at the end, but I may later pay to get rid of them.)