These days I spend a lot of time walking through the University of Minnesota looking for short cuts to buildings in order to lessen the time and effort I need to spend in getting from one class to another. Since efficiency is high on my value list, I'm always looking for ways to streamline my day and my walking routes to spend less time in transit. I have found some routes that may save me a couple of minutes, or shave a few hundred feet off my path, but not enough to make that much of a difference in the end.
Frankly, the time and the energy I have spent trying out those shortcuts has actually had the opposite affect, and caused me to waste valuable time! No efficiency in that!
Although I'd like to think its all about efficiency, all this shortcut finding probably has more to do with laziness. I simply want an easier way. One that requires less effort from me.
Especially for those of us who are Americans, we highly value the "quick and easy" routes in everything from cooking to disseminating information.
Well, I hate to rain on your parade, but God doesn't seem to put the same value on shortcuts as we do. Ask the poor Israelites! They didn't get any shortcuts, but instead wandered for 40 years in a dry, hot, rocky desert! They are a great example of God leading their journey of discovery in KNOWING God into a longcut - (if there were such a word, but of course their isn't, because no one values taking a longer route to get somewhere and therefore create a word for it!)
In simple, organic, and missional life in Christ, you don't get shortcuts.
In fact, compared with the traditional structured Christian experience you may of had previously, this journey in Christ and fellowship requires A LOT MORE from you. It's a longcut!
Whereas before, spending a few moments of morning "devotional" reading was seen as sufficient time in the Bible. Or memorizing a verse or two from time to time was sufficient to allow you feel that you really knew the Word!
In O/S/M life, if you don't spend a large amount of time in your Bible on a regular basis, you dry up like a fig on a rock on a hot day! There simply is no short cut to the time you need to spend with the words of Jesus in His Word.
I recently had a discussion posted on my Facebook page where it was inferred that I was "duped" by a certain author and Christian leader. Before I could respond, a reader of that posting wrote what I wanted to say (probably better!). She wrote that if a person is in the Word regularly and diligently, it is not so easy to be "duped" by what anyone says. If your NOT in the Word constantly, but rather rely upon a meager portion of it, or what others TELL you it says, you will find yourself unable to know the truth from error. Hebrews 5:14 is pretty clear about this; "But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil."
Maybe you used to depend on the shortcut of listening to a 40 minute, hit or miss message, once a week to get instruction. A sermon to get a "new insight" to ruminate upon about that someone else determined you needed to know. You walked out surprised, saying something like; "I really got something out of that sermon this morning!" Or, just as often; "I should of stayed home today!"
In O/S/M life, you have to figure out your own lesson for the week, month, or season of your life. You figure it out by listening to the Author Himself, and hearing what is important to Him in your life at this time. After all, He is invested in you. He is the One with the Plan. He is the one who directs your paths. He is worth listening to and obeying.
This means you are in constant dialog and with an "ear to hear" - all the time! Prayer is not for intercessors or widows with a lot of time on their hands, but it is the vehicle of communication of a loving and involved Father into the lives of His children. Why would we want any shortcuts to that interaction!
There are certainly no short cuts to fellowship. No way! If you want fellowship, YOU have to take the mature initiative to get involved. Either by starting your own simple church, or connecting regularly with folks in a manner that can be all the way from structured to fluid. The form matters less than that you actually get together with folks for the "one anothers". That takes a lot of work. Relationships that live out life together 24/7 takes time, effort, energy and commitment.
Worship? No short cuts there. Where you used to simply show up for a 30 minute set, and participate in it if you were interested in the current worship team leading, or the songs that were chosen, now you have to design your own worship LIFE! Sing, play, write, paint, dance, pray, meditate - worship is up to you!
For a lot of us, we come from backgrounds that teach us short cuts in our expressions of Christianity. I get asked many times for the short cut "formulas" to organic, simple, missional church life. Of course, people don't use those words, but the meaning is clear..."I want and expect this to be easy, quick, full of fast returns, etc., how do I do this?"
There are no streamlined pathways of efficiency in your relationship with God. He calls us into a relationship of depth, quality and intimacy. That is a lot of investment. A lot of commitment, and a lot of time.
Nope, no shortcuts.
Longcuts! But longcuts to an incredible journey of depth!
Are you in ?