Why Bother with Jesus?

Eating lunch in a French cafe last week, Sam and I were playing a game called: You just won the lottery, what will you do with the money?

It’s a useful exercise because the question really asks: Without limitations, perceived or actual, what would you do with your life?

IMG_8737“Well, I’d have a nice ranch with cattle,” he said.

“You already have that.” I reminded him.

“I’d travel more.”

“What are you talking about, we just ordered lunch in French.”

“Ok, I’d buy a new truck.”

“Come on, you’re going to do that anyway.”

What we think we want is money. What we really want is joy.

It’s tempting to believe we could have better lives if we only had more money. Obviously in some cases that’s true, but in France I caught myself wishing I too could drink wine on my sparkly, white yacht before sailing to Villefranche or Monaco. Unfortunately, that craving threatened to eclipse the simple joy of watching the boats from my balcony in Nice.

Even though I know better, I still behave like money guarantees happiness. Please everybody, raise your hand if you know a wealthy person who is a howling, insufferable mess.

In my mind, that is best answer to the question: Why bother with Jesus?

When you get everything you want and it’s still not enough, crushing despair is often the bonus in the box. What do you do then? Go get more boxes? Buddha said that wouldn’t work. Jesus did too. He said over and over, don’t strive, don’t hoard, and he followed up with this advice:

“While you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and there is nothing that I need,’ you have no eyes to see that you are wretched, pitiable, poverty-stricken, blind and naked. My advice to you is to buy from me that gold which is refined in the furnace so that you may be rich… All those whom I love I correct and discipline. Therefore, shake off your complacency and repent.” Rev. 3:17-19

IMG_8430Before I was following Jesus I wasn’t greedy, I was complacent, which is a different and hard animal to break. So, how do you buy this gold from Jesus? What does that look like in practical terms? Here’s my hunch:

  • What matters to Jesus is usually opposite of what matters to us. So plan on that.
  • It’s going to involve doing things for people who won’t say thank you. Rinse, repeat.
  • It will cost something, probably a lot, maybe everything.

Wow, that sounds awesome sign me up!

But what if the return was joy? What if by buying this gold, rather than coveting and hoarding ours, we could live with unspeakable joy? What if  your joy bank was so full, overflowing so lavishly on other people, that they followed you asking your secret?

Would you do it?

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On Skipping Church to Honky Tonk.

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Skipping Wednesday night bible study to dance around in a Deep East Texas honky tonk as Jason Boland blows your eardrums out, is not what some people consider super holy behavior.

But for me it was perfect.

See, I’m no longer keeping Jesus in a separate, holy box and busting him out on Sundays. Nope. I’m letting him have his way with my life – all of it. Since he’s the one who made me love good songwriting and live music in the first place, I think my delight in those things pleases him.

I don’t know that I was worshiping God during the show, but I don’t know that I wasn’t either. I was just being myself and enjoying the life Jesus died to give me. Because I’m starting to understand how free I am in Christ, I can toss out the holy checklist, acknowledging that God doesn’t love me more at church, and less at a concert.

He tells me he loves me because I’m one of his kids, and that makes me love Him back. It makes me want to serve Him and do what I know pleases him. Wood County Cowboy Church is part of that equation, and that’s why I go. Church helps me, but so does live music.

So…

Let Israel rejoice in their Maker let the people of Zion be glad in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. For the Lord takes delight in his people. Psalm 149:2-4

mirrorJust to be clear, I’m not encouraging drunken honky tonk prowling. That’s silly. I’m advocating for joy and the freedom to become the best version of the exact person you already are.

Sometimes my joy overflows at church and sometimes when Jason Boland sings. It simmers when I’m on the tractor, making hay with Sam in the Rocky Mountains. I nearly drown in it, when a former meth addict at the LA Dream Center speaks of her restoration at the hands of Jesus.

And when I take time to sit quietly with my Lord, it wells up and spills out of me right there in my chair.

We were built for this. Where do you find it?