This Faith Ain’t Boring | Adrian Boykin - Apr. 6, 2017
One of the most tried and true ways to make Christianity boring is to turn the whole endeavor into a set of propositions. Across the centuries, many have walked this path. Across our communities, many still do. Sadly, this is a prime reason many people we know—young and old alike—get disenchanted with faith, and walk away. They find it boring.
Perhaps we see the alternative—the stunning reality of what could be—on Easter and Good Friday. “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 5:4-5).
Read those two verses again. For the Christian, the old self was “united with him” in His death. For the Christian, the new self is “united with him” in His resurrection. “Him” is Jesus. The offer is this glorious reality of union with the living God.
The tragedy for so many Christians is that we have imbibed this idea that our faith can be summarized by propositional statements, written on paper. Those statements are critical. They can indeed provide a foundation. But the sap of Christianity that energizes our weary limbs, comes from being connected to the vine—from life “in Christ.”
My wife has been going to a local chapel in town for 30 minutes each Monday, just to silence herself before Jesus, to quiet her soul, to remember that she has a soul, to get reconnected to the vine. Its been this time of solitude—talking to and then listening to the resurrected Christ—that fosters that thing Christians talk about so often, but live so rarely: relationship. We are invited to a relationship with the living God. Propositions alone will not get us there.
In his New Testament Epistles, the Apostle Paul scribbles the phrase “in Christ” some 200 times. Some would call it the centerpiece of his writings. Fascinating! The centerpiece of his doctrine is an experience of relationship with the living God!
On Good Friday we remember we are people who have suffered with Christ, united with him in His death. On Friday and Saturday, we feel the sting of death. On Easter Sunday, we remember that we are people in whom the Resurrected Christ now lives. The sting of death is no more. Christ now lives and reigns, and through His Spirit, He dwells in us.
As we believe this truth, as we take time of solitude to hang with the living God, boredom finds no home in our hearts. Christ in you, the hope of glory! (Colossians 1:27). May the Resurrected Christ, dwell richly in your heart through faith today. May you be grounded and strengthened by His love, which surpasses knowledge, that this Easter, you may bubble over with all the fullness of God! (Ephesians 3:17-18).
A Time for Preparation | Adrian Boykin - Dec. 16, 2016
Year’s ago, an older woman at a church I used to serve declared simply, “My worship of God on Sunday morning is more or less dependent on my worship of God before I get to church on Sunday morning.” She was a simple, but profoundly deep woman. She had a connection with Christ and people that were almost mystical in beauty. She understood that spiritual depth was far more dependent on the preparation of her own heart than on what anyone else fed her.
When we worship God prior to going to church, we begin witnessing the Sunday church-time activities through a completely different lens. Worship music ceases to be something that does or doesn’t meet our preferences. It becomes an instrument for praise and thanksgiving. The sermon ceases to be about the silver-tongued messenger and becomes so much more about the message. The people cease to be men and women we like and don’t like. They become bearers of the image of God. These changes reflect a heart level change that happens through much time in the cauldron of prayer, side by side with our God. Yes, that’s available.
When we are alone with God, with no one else watching, preparing ourselves for the church service (or the workday, or the…..), then we become prepared to truly worship God at church, regardless of how engaging the worship, regardless of how riveting the sermon. Indeed, we even enter the walls of our church looking to bless those we don’t like and greet those we don’t know. It is the worshipper who has met in secret with God, who then enters the doors of the sanctuary, looking to “Contribute to the needs of the saints and to show hospitality” (Romans 12:13).
I’ve found something similar when it comes to the Christmas season. My experience of worship each Christmas almost always depends on my preparation ahead of time. I’m not talking about preparation around the tree or in the stockings, though that deserves its time. And Lord knows I’m not talking about hanging the lights around the garage—how I wish to delegate that task! I’m talking about my preparation for the coming Messiah. Do I ask the Lord to prepare me for Christ afresh this season, yet again? Do I bathe that hope in prayer? Do I wait eagerly for “good news of great joy for all people,” “peace on earth, goodwill to men,” and even those breath-taking words, “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 2:10; 2:14; 1:37).
Advent is the season of preparation for Messiah. It’s a four-week window, in which we moderns can stand fast against the assault of Christmas boredom and materialism. It is the season before the season, a time that God would use to “Prepare the way of the Lord” to “Make straight paths for Him” (Matthew 3:3). We engage worship at Christmas as we bathe these promises in prayer. We anticipate the second advent of our Messiah even as we reflect upon the hope that is ours from His first advent.
So may we ask ourselves today, “What is it I really want this Christmas?” Don’t answer too quickly. “What is it that I really want this Christmas?” My guess is that we want just what Scripture promises The Christ will bring. May we prepare ourselves to receive it in full, this Christmas season.
- Pr. Adrian Boykin, Lead Pastor, Kearney eFree Church