Hello, everyone. This blog has moved to JOHNVOELZ.COM!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What I Want for Westwinds for Christmas

God did not make up a bunch of arbitrary rules designed to suck the joy out of your life. Quite the opposite. The “rules” are all about right relationship with Him, with others, and with ourselves.

Some describe sin as a “burden that needs to be lifted off one’s back” as Scot McKnight suggests. Or, think of it this way, when a burden isn’t lifted then sin becomes the weight someone has to carry. We don’t always recognize this “burden” when we are in the habit of sin. We recognize the burden when we feel the weightiness of the consequences of our choices.

Some describe the rules as boundaries and sin, the crossing of those boundaries. The boundaries are meant for healthy relationship with God, others, and self. To cross those boundaries is at best cause for discomfort and at worse, death.

The Bible uses many metaphors for sin. One of my favorites is in the book of James where we read about temptation and sin in fishing terms. We bait our own hook. We cast it in the water. We stare at the shimmering. We bite it. We’re snagged.

At Westwinds, we often describe sin as a breaking of relationship—something that needs to be set straight, corrected, made right. In our series, “Sin Monkey” our working metaphor was that of sin being like a monkey you take home. At first, he’s cute and cuddly and seems like just what you needed—even if you knew bringing him home was not the best thing. Soon, the monkey is growing and destroying your furniture and flinging poo at you and everyone you know. And so our mantra became, “Kill the monkey. Fix the furniture.”

Recently I have had many conversations with folks about sin. Not because I am their conscience. Not because they need to be chastised. Not because they need to be made to feel guilty. Rather, because they need peace. They need to feel whole. They need to have their shame lifted.

This is what Jesus wants to do for you, church. This is what he does.

Westwinds is a great place for everyone to feel welcome. I am proud we foster an environment where you can belong before you believe. I love that our church doesn’t perpetuate the lie that you need to get cleaned up BEFORE you get on team Jesus. Rather, hang with us, do life with us, and practice surrender with us.

We use the phrase, “Come Dirty” around Westwinds to drive home the idea that God wants us to come as we are. Messed up. Fractured. Nasty.

But, the phrase isn’t “Stay Dirty.”

It’s hard to watch anyone make mistakes or choose . . . poorly. Some don’t know better yet. The road is long. I get it. But, the thing that really hurts is to watch people I know who have already submitted to Jesus choose poorly. It hurts to watch people who have been walking with Jesus for a long time make little choices that lead to bigger choices that have catastrophic ends.

And, unfortunately, I have had many conversations lately with people who willingly make bad choices and somehow think they are above the repercussions or that it really isn’t that big of a deal. This is especially true of a group of folks who continue to make horrible choices with regard to their relationships.

So many times, I want to stand up and say, “Attention! Everyone! Stop playing around. Walk away from “XYZ” and run from “ABC.” But, scare tactics and laying down the law never worked for anyone.

And so I watch people burn their hands on the hot stove. Every. Day.

Then, they come to my office and ask for prayer and counsel to deal with the fallout of the choices they made. The fallout they could have avoided. The fallout they were warned about back when they had a choice.

And so, “He” moves in with his girlfriend against his better judgment. They do it because they know they are getting married soon. Then they break up. Then he comes to my office and cries his eyes out because he bought her a car and gave her his last dime and she left town.

“She” falls for a great guy who promises to take care of her. But, doesn’t promise to marry her. He gets her pregnant and bails. She comes to my office and sobs uncontrollably because she has no insurance to take care of the baby and no place to live.

“He” starts looking at porn “innocently” and spends the next few years living in a fantasy world of sexuality that is neither realistic nor normal. Five years later he and his wife are in my office wondering why she can never please him sexually. It is never enough. He has strange ideas about sex.

“She” had a live-in boyfriend as a financial arrangement with sexual benefits. He left her when she started talking about making a commitment. She was so used to living with his extra money from his unemployment check. But now he’s gone. She came in for counsel and admitted she made horrible choices. Then, she invited another dude with a monthly check to move in with her. They say they’re in love.

These are just a handful of the train wrecks I witness.

Is it any of my business what people do in private? Not really. Until they ask to be leaders, ask what they should be doing to grow in their spiritual life, ask for counsel, ask for prayer, become owners, join a satellite, serve on a team, etc. Then, yes.

It becomes someone else’s business when they invite others to edit their lives. This is what we do as Jesus followers.

What do I want for Christmas? I want people to stop screwing up their lives by playing roulette. I want the Jesus followers in my church to listen to wise counsel and pay attention, stop compromising, and rise above by surrendering to Jesus.

I want my church to know abundant life.

blog comments powered by Disqus