Have you ever forgotten that you had something? I don’t mean that it was stashed away in a box in the garage, out of sight and out of mind. I mean it was in plain sight but you forgot about it. Then, you meet someone who is excited about this thing that they have, and you discover it’s the thing you have. You used to be excited about it. You used to want to show it off. What happened? This is what happened to me the first time I read Haverim by Paul Gibbs. I got excited again for something I had lost sight of over the years; a passion to help others study God’s word so as to transform their lives and the world around them. That’s the promise of Haverim.
That’s not me asking you, dear reader, that’s you asking me. Corby, why are you so critical? I know, I know. I am. But from my perspective I could easily ask, why aren’t you more critical? How can you not see what I see? I know why. You’re normal. The thing is that I’m not really critical, it just looks that way. What am I? I’m a born troubleshooter who cares a great deal about the health and growth of Christians and the church.
Depression. Self-image problems. Unrealistic expectations of success and security promoted on social media. As they say, the struggle is real. While it produces turmoil on the inside, it produces a need to “fake it” on the outside which leads to more sadness on the inside. I’ve been there. I will be there again. It sucks. But what to do about it? I’m observing a trend amongst Christians that is trying to counter these things and it’s mostly centered on being positive. “Corby, what could you possibly find wrong with that?” Sadly, plenty. What I’m seeing is that the focus on being positive is centered on “me,” on self. In fact this is contrary to God’s solution to the problem. God’s solution, as one would expect, produces way better results, and I’m hoping people will be encouraged to pursue it relentlessly. Being positive isn’t the answer. Be more than positive; be biblical.
“Your father brings you into this world. Your Rabbi brings you into the world to come.” Mishna
It can happen to any of us. From the seasoned saint to the new-ish believer, we can hit a point where Jesus feels distant. I know He is my savior, but He died and rose again almost 2,000 years ago on the other side of the world from me. I know He is my Lord, but that makes me think of a King in a distant castle up on a throne while I’m out here in the kingdom trying to serve Him. Does it ever feel like there is something missing from this relationship? There is; it’s seeing Jesus Himself as your primary Mentor.
As someone who has spent a fair amount of time vocationally as a pastor, I should love church, but I don’t. As someone who has always had a heart for young adults and discipling them to live like Jesus, I should be out there with a crew of people mentoring them right now. But I’m not. Why not? Like so many others, I got burned out and burned up by what we call church, both by leaders, and by members. There is too much that feels broken to make any genuine change or growth as there should be. Churches want millennials to adapt to them and millennials want churches to adapt to them. In many instances each side is right about what is wrong, but wrong about what to do about it. For me, current Americanized church culture has become a nearly impossible environment to minister in either direction; to the church and to the people. To a large degree that is on me. I own that. At the same time, most everyone thinks that they know what should be happening, but it’s usually based on bad information so nothing changes for the better. I’ve come up with a name for this bad-information-no-forward-motion phenomenon. I’m calling it “presupposition paralysis” and it is the elephant in the room no one wants to deal with. Well, here it goes.