I fell asleep in the theatre watching the first Avengers movie.(Shout out to the few people who have stuck around after reading that blatantly honest and blasphemous sentence.)
I’m just not a big fan of the superhero-marvel-dc-comic-book-cgi-trilogy-villain movie genre.
Then what are you a fan of, Shama?
I’m glad you asked.
Yup, romantic comedies for the win.
You name it, I’ve watched it and I’ll evangelize its good news if you haven’t.
I did like one part in said Avengers movie.
Did I say like? I meant love.
The gang is in the street planning their next attack plan of action and Captain America heads it.
As he gives everyone their duties he tells Bruce Banner, The Hulk, “Now would be a good time to get angry.”
As Bruce walks away, he looks back at the Cap and says,
That’s my secret Captain, I’m always angry.
I know I said I wasn’t a fan of these movies but I have watched a handful of them and for some weird reason, The Hulk movies were my favorite.
I never knew his secret.
That, along with the Crabby Patty formula, has always bugged me.
Until that day in the theatre.
(I’m still holding out for the CP formula.)
HE’S ALWAYS ANGRY.
Who woulda thunk it?
When I was in leadership, I could relate a lot to Bruce B.
People would tell me things like,
“Don’t get frustrated.”
“Don’t stress yourself out.”
“Take it easy.”
I used to respond okay for the longest of time until one day I stopped and looked an intern in the eyes and simply responded, “That’s my secret, I’m always frustrated.”
There is never a day when I don’t overthink, overplan or over-prepare.
To say that I was ever content was a lie from the pits of Hades.
Part of me never felt okay with that because I felt like I was going against sound advice.
Another part of me felt okay with the frustration. That is until I came across this quote from my man Thomas Edison.
Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.
How dangerous of a place to be.
The tires of my existence screeched to a halt the moment I realized that I was very discontent and complacent about doing anything about it.
I knew that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be spiritually.
I’ll get there when I’m older, I told myself.
I wasn’t satisfied with being and being around 2-day-a-week Christians.
We all get it, though. It’s not in vain. Everyone’s been going to church, I reassured my thoughts.
I read my Bible and looked up and read more and looked around and read more and hung out with people who also claimed to read and believe the same book but I noticed their lives weren’t impacted.
That’s how it is now, though. That Bible stuff was in Bible times. It’s a new era. This is how we do Christianity, I lied to myself.
Who had I become?
Where have I been my whole life?
I remember having conversations with my friends and mentors and randomly exploding with, “WE CAN’T ALL BE OKAY WITH THIS!”
I would be calmed and told, “That’s just how things are and will be.”
I’m not here to point out that some jet-setting pastors, $500 ticket conference teachers, multi-campus churches, and 2016 Christian stereotypes are wrong, I’m just saying that I’VE READ THE WHOLE BIBLE AND THEY’D BETTER BE RIGHT.
There’s no room for error in this.
It’s literally a matter of eternal life in 1 of 2 places.
I think the greatest disconnect arrived when we turned the Bible into a fro-yo shop and loaded our Christianity cups with the toppings that we wanted. Jesus spent a majority of His ministry teaching and preaching about life and God’s intentions for life (see Matthew 5, 6, 7.)
Everyone had this idea of what living was and Jesus came and gave everyone a fresh pair of glasses. What is every human being’s purpose? What is their chief end? According to Thomas Watson,
The chief end of man is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
Our main goal is to praise, worship, revere, pay homage to, honor, adore, give thanks to God and ultimately delight, enjoy, lap up, savor, luxuriate in, bask in, be ecstatic about Him FOREVER.
The two go hand-in-hand. When we glorify God, our lives are enjoyable because of Him.
In chapter 48 of Isaiah, the prophet tells of God’s ancient plan to redeem Israel and ends it in verse 22 with, “‘There is no peace,’ says the Lord, ‘For the wicked.’”
That reaffirms the call to live in a Biblically sound way for the sole purpose of being at peace with you.
We claim we want world peace, peace in the Middle East, etc.
The truth of the matter is, many of us live unruly lives lacking peace because of our sins, and are okay with it.
A few verses that put my discontentment into focus were Acts 5:17-21.
We catch the writer telling about some of Jesus followers who were imprisoned.
17 But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy
18 they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison.
Not exactly the most luxurious of responses to preaching truth, but here they were. Orange was the new tunic.
19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said,
(This is just cool because people’s perception and artist’s rendition of angels never depict them as beings that can bust people out of prison.)
20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.”
21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.
“All the words of this Life.”
I loved that part. My 4-year-Bible-College brain immediately powered down the theology department and went into overdrive on the life department.
One commentary I read put it eloquently:
They must preach to the lowest, whose souls are as precious to Christ as the souls of the greatest. Speak to all, for all are concerned. Speak as those who resolve to stand to it, to live and die by it. Speak all the words of this heavenly, divine life, in comparison with which the present earthly life does not deserve the name. These words of life, which the Holy Ghost puts into your mouth. The words of the gospel are the words of life; words whereby we may be saved.
What if we’ve missed it, Christian friends?
What if in our efforts of Bible teaching, sermon preaching, podcasting listening, lecturing giving, theology arguing, Calvinist-Armenian debating, Bible thumping, and hymn singing we have forgotten what it is all about.
The gospel has always been about II Corinthians 5:21–
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
He came so we could become.
He became so we could become.
He’s the same so we could become.
Ultimately God wants us to share the same with others.
Before we turn on the quadruple stage projectors, before the Grammy-award-winning worship leader grabs the mic, before thousands of people become fans of one person, let’s tell them what it’s always been about.
I think that God-sent angel had it right that night when he freed Jesus’ followers.
Christians have been so quick to tell unbelievers about heaven and streets of gold and glorified bodies, while neglecting that before we get there, we’re still here.
People are frustrated, they’re tired, worn out, weary, worried, and need hope.
Proverbs 13:12 says,
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.
Where is this hope found?
In. This. Life.
Let’s tell them about this life.
Let’s tell people about enjoying God in this life. (Psalms 37:4)
Let’s let people know the ups and downs of this life. (John 16:33)
Let’s let people know that they’re never alone in this life. (Matthew 28:20)
I’ve realized more times than I care to confess that the times that I found myself, “ALWAYS frustrated,” were times when I missed the big picture.
I read my Bible and learned how saints of old lived, ministered and went about life and it puts mine into perspective.
There is so much going on in and around us, but in comparison to what believers before us endured, it’s nothing. Compared to what believers in the Middle East are going through, it’s nothing. Compared to what the Bible commands us to endure, it’s all nothing.
I pray daily that God would forgive me for missing it.
I need forgiveness when I’ve caused others to miss it by laying my faith, prayer, or gospel template on their lives.
I believe that my generation is the most dissatisfied of them all.
My peers are on the forefront for race, sexuality, gender, civil, political, and bathroom issues.
I wish all of that had a switch-flip solution that could be hit, but it doesn’t.
Problems have always been with us and they always will be.
The issue isn’t a bill or a law. The issue is the evil hearts of humans.
Friends, we have to focus on the eternal issues
II Corinthians 4:18 reminds us that
while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Lives are temporary.
Souls are eternal.
We deal with lives because they carry souls.
And in a world where, “Get a life,” is a sarcastic quip, we need to tell people about the life that God intended for us. Eternal life.
Is it free?
Yes, but it’s gonna cost you a lot of devotion.
Is it gonna be easy?
Yes, but hard times will come, and you’re not alone.
Do I have to?
No, but you can’t afford not to.
When I pose Biblical truths that counter with the times I always just ask, “Like, who has a better say/suggestion/guidance on our lives than the Creator of it?”
Dwight L Moody once famously said,
The world has yet to see what God will do with and for and through and in and by the man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.
The world has never seen, friends.
They will though. The world will see because I believe that there are people who are discontent with this life, that they want new life, and they’re gonna learn about this life and it’s gonna radically change their lives and it’ll be so contagious that they can’t and won’t shut up about it.
It begins with you.
II Peter 3:9-
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
What’s God’s secret?
He’s always longsuffering because He doesn’t want anyone to miss out on the greatest gift and deepest desire, this life.