Monday, July 28, 2008

Journey Talk

I went to a men's breakfast group one morning where the participants pulled out scorecards and reported how many days the previous week they had read Scripture, witnessed to an unbeliever, or "hit their knees" before "hitting the shower." They were holding each other accountable to disciplines they thought important. As sincere as they may have been to encourage one another, they were sincerely wrong.

These men had embraced a process of conformity, thinking it was their responsibility to motivate people to comply with their standards. Little did they realize that this process is the opposite of sharing the Christian journey. That is why accountability groups start with a wealth of zeal and quickly fade away. Can you imagine Jesus pulling out similar scorecards to check on his disciples?

Growing in relationship with God does not come through conformity but through transformation. Relationships are organic and therefore defy all attempts to fit into any one-size-fits-all model. Rules, routines, and rituals are the building blocks of religion, not relationship. People caught up in religion focus on obeying authority, maintaining accountability, meeting standards by human effort, finding fault, confronting failure, and blaming others. In short, conforming to these things can be quite painful, especially for those who struggle to do the accepted thing. People instinctively know that instead of helping them know God better, these religious activities add stress and strain to the journey. That is why Paul told his readers over and over again not to have anything to do with people who wanted to boss others, even if their aim was greater righteousness (2 Cor. 11:13-15; Gal. 5:7-10, 6:11-19; Phil. 3:2; Col. 2:16-19).

Paul wasn't against righteousness, but he knew that true righteousness grew only out of a trusting relationship to the Father. This kingdom does not result from our efforts but from his. "Apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5), Jesus said, calling us to depend on him. We do not share the journey by conforming others to what we think is best for them, but by encouraging them to lean on Jesus.

Those on the journey talk about encouragement, help, service, support, love, compassion, forgiveness, and trust. They will focus on loving God more freely and one another more openly, trusting God instead of trusting themselves, being real instead of repeating "right" answers, and taking the risk to follow God instead of meeting people's expectations. They won't force people into a mold, because they know people have to have their own journey with God so he can transform them into his likeness. Doing so lifts people higher instead of weighing them down with added obligations and responsibilities.

pgs. 104-105 authentic relationships - discover the lost art of "one anothering"


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