I recently heard a great phrase from somebody very close to me. The phrase was: “that Jesus had a lot of fans, but not necessarily followers.” It was in the context of the two of us discussing what authentic Christian spirituality looks like.
This person had gone through a seriously traumatic and tough time but had not let go of their faith in Christ Jesus, despite the very real pain of their circumstances. At the same time because of that deep spiritual faith and connection with God they were also able to be real with their emotions going through the process, thus revealing their emotional and relational intelligence.
When it comes to an answer for people’s growing challenges with mental health, loneliness and issues of wellbeing, a connection with ‘our Creator’ provides an anchor in the incredible storms of life that we are all prone to experience at some time or other.
Jesus Himself said: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
The phrase I mentioned at the start of this article can be likened to a football analogy: I know some really committed football fans who are absolutely dedicated to their clubs, but with respect to everybody who follows a club they don’t play at a professional level for the team.
Playing seriously on the pitch where the rules of the game are quite exacting, and every member of the team must train to experience the games being won or lost is a demanding process. Win on the pitch and you have more fans, lose and you’re in big trouble. It’s the stuff of life that besets us all.
That is why I recommend to our church members: “live to the audience of one” because Jesus is the only one who truly judges you fairly whether you win or lose with some of the choices that are made on the journey of life.
I’ve been around the church community for almost 40 years and much of it is wonderful with many people trying their best to be a support to their teammates, but the Church is still made up of people on a journey requiring increased healing, maturity and in need of constant training or what the Church calls discipleship.
Christianity is a lifestyle that requires training and only truly works if the individual applies his or herself to the process. I believe that if you come to church with a hungry heart to know about God, you’ll receive a revelation of communication from His heart to yours, not just some religious information solely to your head.
The essential issues of life come out of the spiritual heart of a human being. Courage; faithfulness; hope; true love and the meaning of life are more than a process of the cerebral intellect gathering information. They are part of a wonderful process of training which reveals a person’s identity, intrinsic value and purpose for living in both this life and the next. It is anything, but boring.
There is a great Christian apologist called Ravi Zacharias who you can watch on YouTube at any time and who debates at Oxford, Cambridge, Princeton and Yale, to name a few places of learning originally established as Christian Universities. He has a phrase for his organisation which says RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries) has been set up “to help those who think to believe and those who believe to think.”
We need to employ both head and heart in balance to handle the challenges that come our way. When we know, experientially by God’s interaction with us our incredible worth to Him, then we are equipped to play a great game on the pitch of life and not just be spectators in the stands. God doesn’t want you religious, he wants you free and a life changer, winning in life despite how tough the game can sometimes get.