The Bible says a lot about the cross. Nowhere does it mention inoffensive.
It’s no secret our American culture has for decades been steadily drifting away from God. While that drift out into the depths of Whatever Feels Good has been happening, there’s been just as steady an invasion of philosophies alien to God and His salvation plan through Jesus.
I was born and raised in the great Pacific Northwest. From my earliest memories, our family spent several weeks each summer camping and fishing in the mountains of central Oregon, eastern Washington and northern Idaho. Those trout, steelhead and salmon were worth the effort!
It takes time and effort to plan a trip like that, especially if using a boat. There’s equipment, bait and lures to buy, motors to fine-tune, and batteries to charge up for trolling. Even if planning to catch most of one’s food, there were still condiments and cornmeal, salt and spices, pepper and particulars.
Does it make sense, then, to go to all that effort to plan a great fishing vacation, put one’s boat in the water, lower the motors, load it with all necessities, then just . . . drift?
Don’t get me wrong. We meant to drift sometimes. We’d figure out which way the wind was pushing the waves, motor up above that, cut the main outboard and drift, letting the action of the water propel us. If catching fish, we’d stay there, repeatedly using the trolling motor to go back to our original starting point and drift some more. If catching little or nothing, we’d use the outboard to go somewhere else interesting, and try the same thing there.
Drifting while fishing’s not terribly crucial unless you’re drifting over a falls or into some rapids. Intentionally drifting away from the guidelines of God’s Word is spiritually mortal. It doesn’t happen all at once; we cut a corner here, quibble over something else there, and before long we’re a long way from where God did His changing work through Jesus in us.
“How on earth did we get here?” Good question to ask.
Hell’s temperature hasn’t dropped, but any interest in hearing a thing about it has.
If we tolerate real preaching much, make sure the speaker’s voice is respectful, husky and breathy. I don’t need NObody yelling at me. In church, I mean. If we’re hosting Entrepreneurs Extraordinaire or watching an edge-of-seat game, the more excited the better!
You. Up on the, uh, stage thingie. Entertain me. You do all the work, make it happen and sparkle. Sing upbeat stuff I’m used to hearing, with lyrics that don’t expect anything from me. Remember the 11th Commandment: “Don’t make me uncomfortable.” Let me be okay with thinking, “Well, that’s nice for you. There’s a lot of ways to please God.”
Well, yeah. But every one of them is in the Bible. And every translation out there reads pretty much the same. And every one of those commands of God are funneled through the Person and saving work of Jesus Christ.
Our problem is that we’re stubbornly attached to finding a way – ANY way – to get God’s grace pouring down over our lives except the one He’s given us: Jesus.
There’s where the drift comes in. The world around you – its cultural norms, the way everybody else lives – want you at all costs to just fit in. “Go ahead and do church all the time. That’s cool. Just come back and be ‘us’ with us, too. After all, the Good Book says you’re salt and light for the rest of us, right? Can’t do that if you’re not out here with us.”
Right. Yet I’ve never once seen a person receive Jesus as Lord and stay just the way they were before.
See, that’s where drifting is so dangerous. It blurs any clear distinction between life as God wants us to live it, and life the way we want to live it. If no one can see any real change for the better in following Christ rather than following the world, then what’s the point?
Go on and do your thing. Eat, drink, and be Mary. Or Tom, Jack or Jill. Get all the gusto and grins you can. Be a good person. Make others happy. Just remember that “for tomorrow you die” part.
God’s still in charge of that part.
Don’t misunderstand. I like being comfortable as much as the next guy. I’m sitting here surrounded by books and writing pads, sipping fresh, hot coffee. I’ve a cozy pinon wood fire burning in the fireplace, warming my feet and my thoughts. Of course comfort is important.
I like being liked, too. I don’t like feeling awkward in social settings or being looked at funny any more than you do. I simply believe that it’s not my task as a Christian man to play caboose to every whim my culture throws at me. I’d rather be a living, breathing, coffee-enjoying specimen of a God’s guy. I’d rather be making no apologies for quietly bowing my head to thank God for His miracle-working power that allows me to eat and absorb nutrients from my food.
I’d rather leave the bar where God’s had it all along. I’m not talking about being obnoxious and holier-than-thou. I’m saying I see my role as being at peace in my heart, and loving and comfortable among all others while unobtrusively yet gratefully living out my faith to please my King, not my culture.
Perfection? Nope. Don’t even get me started. As a recovering perfectionist, I tried that route and found it ridiculous. I’ve plenty of sanding and polishing work to be done in and on me – but the Holy Spirit’s the one whom I allow to do all that finishing work. Listening to Him, following His lead gives me plenty of work to do.
Want to know the truth? I know many think drifting’s just the cat’s jammies in the fishing world. Not me. I never really liked being at the mercy of wherever the wind or current took me. If you like it, that’s all good. Enjoy.
For me, I’d rather stick real close to where God is and let Him do the navigating. When this is all done for me, I want my life to reflect how close I tried to stay with Him, not how far I managed to drift away before coming running back, grinning and saying, “Psyche. Just kidding. I was always Yours, right?”
If letting The Drift happen in your life seems to be working okay for you, remember there’s always a count and weigh-in at day’s end.
Show me your string of fish, and I’ll change my bait.
© D. Dean Boone, March 2018