I am a Christian. That is, I believe in Jesus as Christ. I believe that God became man and through his grace I will live forever.
I go to church just about every Sunday. My family says grace at supper time and my little boys say their prayers before they go to sleep. We talk about God in my house, and my wife and I read the bible to our boys. I give a considerable percentage of my earnings to the church and other charities which I believe serve God in various ways. I often listen to a Christian Rock station here in the Denver area, and I participate in some of the activities that my Church sponsors. My wife teaches Sunday School and Childrens' Church on a regular basis. I try to live a moral life. I try to treat others as I would have them treat me.
But, being a Christian is more than just believing. Jesus calls us all to be his disciples. At the end of each Gospel, Jesus charges us to follow him and take up his ministry.
Matthew ends with Jesus saying, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19 - 20)
Mark ends with Jesus saying, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16: 18 - 20)
Luke ends with Jesus saying, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. (Luke 21: 46-49)
John ends with Jesus telling his disciples "Feed my lambs." ... "Tend my sheep." ... "Feed my sheep" ... "Follow me!" (John 21: 15 - 24)
When Jesus said these things, he was not just talking to his 11 disciples, but every Christian. He was talking to me too.
Throughout the Bible, Jesus makes it clear that following Him is not an easy or safe proposition. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell us that Jesus said, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23) Taking up the cross clearly makes the prospect of following Christ a sacrifice. Just as Christ's cross involved the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus is telling us that we are expected to be able to give up anything and everything to follow him.
I don't feel I have a cross. I do not have a cause where I know I am happy doing God's work through selfless sacrifice.
When I think of disciples, I think of evangelizers. These people are so "geeked up" (where did I come up with that term?) on the good news that they cannot help but preach and spread the word of God. These people go to Haiti or feed the homeless in their home town and they feel comfortable talking about God. They share the good news. They do not care if people look at them funny or physically threaten to harm them. They just share the good news because they HAVE to do it.
I do not feel comfortable talking about God with strangers. My friends all know I am a Christan and they know they are always welcome to come to church with me, but I do not feel all that comfortable talking about God with those of my friends who are not regular church goers. I do not feel 100% completely comfortable talking about God with people that I know are Christians. You certainly will not see me preaching on top of a mountain top or baptising the masses in a river.
To be fair, I do not feel comfortable talking to anyone about anything. I am the biggest introvert that I have ever met.
My side business (Auction Automations) may be the closest thing I have to a cross. We help various charities raise money through silent auctions, and we certainly are not doing it at a huge profit. It might be considered a cross, but I am not passionate about it. Truth be told, I complain about the long extra hours of work with very little pay almost all the time. And, we are trying to position ourselves so that we can partner with people in such a way that we make money at this, so our hope is that the hard work will pay off financially eventually. Just because we are bad at assessing our own worth and therefore give all these charities a very reasonable (reasonable for them) price for what we do does not mean we are attempting to do God's work.
Of course, sometimes God uses you even though you do not realize it.
You might look at my blood donation as a cross. As many times as I am able I give blood. I make the sacrifice happily. In fact I do not consider it a sacrifice. It may be a cross, but it is such a small one, I hesitate to even bring it up.
My church is starting a "Capital Campaign". If you are a member of a church, you probably know what that is. Basically, it is the church rallying the members to give more for a specific purpose. It is supposed to be above and beyond your "regular" contribution. The last one our church did was to finance a nice new (expensive) education wing on the church. This one is to attempt to paid down the mortgage on the church so that we can free up finances for God's "real" work. The plan is to raise 4 million dollars over three years. I am not sure how realistic it is. The pastors seem to think in our area with our wealth and God's ability to do anything, it should be no problem. 4 million dollars sounds like a lot to me, but what do I know?
And my original reaction is: "I am already giving what you guys said I should be giving. Now, I am supposed to give more?" Frankly, that is a stupid reaction, but it is probably the typical human reaction. And, I will give more. What do I care? I have too much money, why not give it to pay down a mortgage on my church. I literally will not miss whatever I give to the church.
But, the capital campaign is not just about money. The other part is that it is supposed to give you an opportunity (don't you always have the opportunity) to focus on and pray about what you can give of yourself (your time and your talents) to help out the church.
For me, money is easy. Identifying talents and committing to share those talents is something that I dread.
And to make matters worse, Pastor Chad wants to come talk about it with Tracy and me. As I mentioned before, I don't feel comfortable talking about anything. I do not want to talk with Chad Johnson (no relation to Ocho Cinco) about this whole thing. I want to just write a check every once and awhile and be done with it. This is horrible, but part of the reason I was attracted to this church was its size and the fact that I thought that I would probably be able to hide among the masses and not be bothered all that much with "serving". Yes, I know that is horrible. Yes, I am bad person. But, yes, for the most part it worked. I come to church most Sundays, give a large amount of money to the church, serve as an usher once in a great while, attend a few adult education classes while my kids are in Sunday School (our church calls it AHA ... Abiding Hope Adventures), and pretty much go unnoticed when it comes to doing any real work.
And back to the whole not having a cross... this is an opportunity to rectify the situation. I know I should change; need to change, and so God is sending Pastor Chad to help me do it. I guess. Part of my problem is that I have no idea how to identity what I should be doing. This is a probably I not only have with the church, but my "professional" life. I do not know what I should be doing spiritually or professionally, and I don't know HOW TO FIGURE IT OUT. So, maybe Chad has some ideas.
Of course, maybe Chad is just going to talk about money. Money is easy.