AND

My Church home is small group based. We meet each week for corporate worship, though the worship event is intimate and informal (very organic-like). But, the way you connect is through home groups (we call them Link Groups).

In those groups we care for each other, reach out to others with Good News, spur each other on toward good deeds, gather around Truth, celebrate our communion… essentially we are the Church in our Link Groups.

This spring/summer my Link Group is gathering every-other week. On the off-weeks, we’ve sub-divided around some guys/gals groups. The guy-group I meet with is functioning like a modified LTG (search Neil Cole for information on a Life Transformation Group). And we are spending our time with our Father around the New Testament Book of Hebrews.

We’re four weeks in and through chapter 2. Our adjusted idea of an LTG is to read to hear a word from God as opposed to the more familiar model of reading to study. The goal is, once we have identified a word from God our sub-group helps us figure out a way to do something about what we’ve heard and support to do it. It’s not about changing just our minds, but about whole-life change.

I am a giant fan of this approach to discipleship. But, my weeks in Hebrews have been wearing on me. It’s not that I don’t have a sense that God is speaking, I just haven’t known what to do with what I was hearing.

Here, in a nutshell, is what I’ve heard Holy Spirit say to me, over and over, these last few weeks:

Angels are cool. Jesus is way cooler.

I’ve read these chapters repeatedly… from multiple translations… there’s a lot of ‘good stuff’ in there… but that’s what I keep hearing:

Angels are cool. Jesus is way cooler.

Cute. But, what are you trying to say to me, God?!

This last week I was reading the text from Eugene Peterson’s rendering, The Message. Same word:

Angels are cool. Jesus is way cooler.

Exasperated, I thumbed the page and found Peterson’s own introductory reflections to the Book. He wrote of the pull of religion on the lives of the 1st readers of this long letter. He talked of their “Jesus-and” faith – a faith that started simple and pure enough but, with past baggage and human tendency, was quickly being mixed with religion. Then he wrote to me:

“Our main and central task is to live in responsive obedience to God’s action revealed in Jesus. Our part in the action is the act of faith. But more often than not we become impatiently self-important along the way and decide to improve matters with our two cents’ worth. We add on, we supplement, we embellish. But instead of improving on the purity and simplicity of Jesus, we dilute the purity, clutter the simplicity. We become fussily religious, or anxiously religious. We get in the way.” (The Message, “Introduction Hebrews,” p 2180)

Essentially he suggests we have this propensity to gravitate by faith to Jesus precisely because, as the old hymn reports, “Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe.”

Over time we somehow reason there must be more that I must do. Surely faith cannot be enough. So we tack things on.

Now, I have not tacked-on angels like the 1st readers of Hebrews… that’s not my “AND” temptation. But I am suddenly aware – heightened by the Easter season and the annual reminder of Jesus’ sole role in salvation – that I have tacked other things on… good things, important things, valuable things, but not necessary things.

My doctrinal views help me make sense of the Story within the Bible. But, not all of those views are necessary parts of a faith-relationship with our Father.

My soul aerobics help me stay moldable clay in The Potter’s Hands. But they are not all necessary to a faith-relationship with our Father.

My Church practices add life to my journey and a sense of oneness with a group of people on the same quest. But they are not requirements for a faith-relationship with our Father.

I have realized I have a “Jesus-and” list lurking in my life.

It is unacceptable. It is complicating, cluttering, and busying my life. Left unchecked it will disfigure the shaping of my soul, distract my submission to His mission, and defuse the passion of my love for Him and others.

So, I must do a “Jesus-and” assessment. I need to take that phrase Holy Spirit keeps whispering to me (“Angels are cool. But Jesus is way cooler.”) and turn it into a pattern for confessional prayer.

Here’s what I’m thinking: Time with God so He can identify the “angels” in my life (those things I’ve added to simple faith in Jesus) then plugging those things into a new-fangled breath prayer…

Father, _____ is cool. But Jesus is way cooler.

What do you think? Do you have a “Jesus-and” list? If so, why not join me in this prayer pilgrimage?!

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About christmasandicecream

Grace & Peace to you all! I'm Randy. I am a follower of Jesus - sometimes close up and, sadly, sometimes way too far away. My best friend, administrative assistant, partner, and high school sweetheart all live with me and go by the same name: Adele. She and I are part of a relationally-focused, small group based Church family that helps us along spiritual quest. Our boys are both grown now. We have a wonderful daughter-by-marriage and 2 truly GRANDchildren... 1 boy and 1 girl. We are Corgi people and now oversee the care of 1 spoiled Corgi puppy named Elly May. I am a devoted fan of 2 'seasons' in each year: Christmas and baseball!! At my house, a Christmas tree goes up somewhere within days of the close of the Fall Classic (baseball lingo for the World Series) and a Christmas tree stays up all the way through Spring Training. In between it is non-stop celebration of the Incarnation. I live in the Mid-Atlantic part of the U.S.A. and, among other things, work as a coach and consultant with an incredibly diverse network of churches that make up the BCMD. My Church-roots are in the Baptist bucket of the Christian ice cream shop. But, just because I have a favorite flavor, doesn't mean I don’t like them all! I do. I work with things like soul care & leadership development of pastor/pastoral team members; with small, simple, organic models of church life; with relational strategies of spiritual formation; and with the health of the Church. I taught at New Orleans seminary for a decade and have served in local churches for 30 years. I am currently part of the faculty of Rockbridge Seminary – a new kind of seminary for a new kind of Church – where I also play a role on the Academic Council. *I am obliged to note that questions, comments, ideas, views,... just about anything you read here, are mine, and not those of BCMD, RS, any other organization or school I work for, or those of most normal people. Thanks for visiting. Come back again.
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