I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don't want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please. - Tim Hansel on most Christians' priorities.
This first post was written by my friend, Matt Tuckey. I got to know Matt through shared time on our church's board. I always appreciate the depth of thought and feeling he brings to everything he does. Matt is the Associate Executive Director of our local YMCA and blogs at Living Openhanded and Y Thoughts. He has two boys, ages fiveand seven, and a wonderfully talented wife. My own faith journey has been made easier and less lonely by the presence of Matt and his wife.
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Some contend that a crusade is in effect on the Christian faith or, at least, on the morals and values our society. Perhaps, but more so I see a culture that is very amiable to religion given that it's practiced within the parameters currently deemed appropriate. I work in the health and wellness industry and I consistently see the inclusion of spirituality as a widely accepted key ingredient to holistic wellness. Certainly what's generally accepted by society is spirituality in it's most general sense. Whatever one sees as truth is ok, as long as you're connecting to something beyond yourself.
Current best practice says that our lives should reflect the makeup of a salad with a healthy mix of nutrient rich greens, diverse fruits, low-fat protein, and a few sunflower seeds sprinkled atop. In the same way, it's projected that our lives should include a desirable dose of emotionally rich experiences, diverse community for social health, physical exercise, and some type of spirituality sprinkled atop. Perhaps, but this isn't the makeup of life that truly redeems, restores, and recreates us. Instead, it's fast food life that tastes good and fills us, but doesn't sustain us. It's $3.00 of God.
In many ways my life has been built around the constructs of control. I've navigated my ship and crafted my destiny. Or so I thought. This illusion of control was rooted in a lie that I told myself long ago. "Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat..." This line was made famous in the 1995 film, Heat. The film followed a thief and the detective that pursued him, both lonely broken men isolated by this mantra that defined them. Unfortunately, this idea rooted itself into my magical world of controlled environments, relationships, and situations. It was safe. I was able to toss together my life with a mix of what I wanted on my terms, complete with a bit of God sprinkled atop. My $10 life included an evenly proportioned $3.00 of God. The destiny I pursued was ecstasy, not transformation.
God isn't positioned to be consumed in a drive thru. God isn't a value meal to be efficiently devoured on the way to the next appointment. God isn't an evenly proportioned part of our holistic wellness. And, God isn't a healthy topping sprinkled upon our lives. God wants to be the dressing. God wants to saturate all that's in our lives. God doesn't want to be an ingredient, but rather the taste that defines every other part of our lives. God wants to explode our souls, transform our hearts, and to completely make us new.
It's in our faith that we find wellness. As Matthew recounts the story of Jesus' life, he tells of three occasions where faith is the verge of the miraculous. (See Matthew 8:10, 9:21, 9:29). In each account, an individual comes before Jesus dragging with them a faith-saturated life that's a broken remnant of what they'd dreamt. And in each story, Jesus changes their reality on the spot. This transformation happens not because they've strategically positioned themselves to appropriately request favor or because they've created a life that has an open slice for Jesus to enter in, but only because they're dripping with faith.
I've learned that my illusory world of control wasn't sustainable. I'm learning that God desires mercy not sacrifice. I'm learning that God wants my trust and faith so that I might find rest. I'm learning that, as Tim Keller says, Jesus isn't at the top of the stairs staring down to me directing me to ascend to Him, but instead Jesus is the stairs.
It's safe, culturally acceptable, and comfortable to purchase $3.00 of Jesus. Countless people do it every Sunday. I've done it for too long. For a control freak like myself, it's scary to pray for a life saturated by God. This means change. It means surrender. It's daunting to imagine a life rooted in trust and faith without my vain attempts at control. It's easy to dismiss this type of life for those who can't handle their own. Yet, it's what God dreams for us, his children. A life reliant on Him is one He knows brings us to our fullest sense of who we were created to be - magnificent beings that shine like stars in the universe, all-stars of the highest order.
I am thankful that God hasn't granted me my subtle desire to have a life void of relationships that I could walk away from in 30 seconds flat. I don't know why God's tilled my heart over the past few years to uproot the lies and replant seeds of purpose, sprouts of faith. It hasn't been easy. But, I believe that God's up to bigger things. I believe He's using my humble story in some small way as he continually drafts His story. I believe that He's reorienting my life because I'm loved and accepted and forgiven. I believe that God is saddened when I pursue only $3.00 of Him, a limited portion of all that's good. And I believe that He reclines and laughs heartily as I write this, because He's brimming with excitement about what He's doing, about the stories He's interweaving with redeeming grace. I believe His smile is large as He looks upon us with anticipation, knowing what's to come before we do, understanding that when we're immersed in Him, we're sinking wonderfully in grace.
God, may I never undervalue you again. May I see all things through your eyes. May I pay full attention to what you're doing all around. May I never be comfortably complacent, but always hopefully challenged. May I continue to stand arms outstretched and openhanded in the showers of grace. Immerse us, saturate us, and soak us in all that you've imagined for us. May we never settle for less than You. May we always desire more of You.
[Stay tuned for two more takes on this quote to be posted over the next couple of days. I'd love to hear your take on it too . . . and I'm sure Matt would enjoy hearing your comments. If you like this piece, take a few minutes to explore his blog posts - you won't be disappointed.]