Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Professional Hoop Jumper

I'm a professional hoop jumper. It's not that I'm in Cirque Du Soleil or anything, but if you tell me it can't be done or hint that it is incredibly difficult then I'm all in. The higher you lift the hoop, the more I want to jump through it.

I suppose that is how I ended up with a degree in Biomedical Engineering. It seemed like the coolest and hardest degree available so that's what I picked. Some people follow their passions and heart when they pick a degree. Not me. The way I used to see it, that's how you end up unemployed, living with your parents, with a degree in Art History to adorn your childhood bedroom walls.

That's how I ended up an Eagle Scout. And that part of me is still alive and kicking enough to want to plant a church in Boston where under 3% of the residents attend an evangelical church.

BUT...

While being a hoop jumper (you could also say "rat racer") can lead to great success in task-oriented goals, it always promises more than it can deliver. Just because you accomplish what you set out to achieve that doesn't make you happy for more than a day. Generally, people like us set another goal before the sun goes down and poof there goes contentment.

Just because you get into the right school that doesn't mean you are any good at relationships.

Just because you land that dream job doesn't mean you are fulfilled.

And that disconnect is what led me to Jesus when I was 17.

My mother is Jewish, though non-observant, and my father is Protestant, though non-observant. I figured if there was a God, there would be a religious system with more hoops for me to jump through, but how wrong I was. I discovered that Christianity is about grace. And grace means coming to God with your hands empty. No accomplishments, no checked boxes, no great performances, no hoops... just need.

Coming to God with your moral performance or your religious observance is like a 2 year old standing before a Great King offering a handful of shiny pebbles as a present. I'm sure he appreciates the gesture, but don't kid yourself. You are not buying any favor today.

God's unconditional love toward me was experienced primarily as forgiveness of sin. His grace is so shocking, so counter-intuitive that it has a way of recreating you from the inside out. He rewired my priorities and taught me to seek the advancement of other people as much as I had been seeking the advancement of myself. That's what eventually led to my decision to be a pastor and church starter.

The scary truth of the gospel is that God's standards are so high they are a hoop you will never clear. But in Christ we have the one person who did it. He please God fully. So we worship Him, and because we trust in his performance and not our own we have rest. Rest from anxiety, self-justification, and sin. And it feels so good to be at peace whether in the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.

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