I recently had the privilege of attending a missions conference called World Mandate West in San Diego, California. I left Arizona with mixed emotions of excitement, hope and predictability. Being the third time I had attended this conference, I sort of understood what it would be like, but I was in for an awakening.
Processing this trip had been more difficult than it was for me in past years, and there are a number of reasons for that. I'll cut to the chase and point out that I've felt incredibly prone to "jaded christianity" lately. It's not something I ever thought I would experience, and I've dealt with a bit of shame in admitting it. I'd like to share my thoughts mainly for fellow christians who have felt the same way in the past or perhaps are still in it.
Becoming jaded made me feel alienated in the church, but not in the kind of way where I leave and form bitter resentment for my pastors — nothing like that in fact. I've always clung to the community, and to those whose faith I hold highly in my heart, such as my pastors. Rather, I felt alienated from the church at large, the church of the bible, the story of God. This alienation came from my own heart, and in no way was because of some hurt I felt from my community. I only realized this during the second to last session of World Mandate. Let me paint this picture for you:
Worship begins, and those who have no shame, and every inclination to praise Jesus even if they don't feel like it, run to the front to be a little closer to loud speakers. I am one of those people. Hands are raised, hearts are on the floor, people are pouring themselves out to God in spirit and in truth. Shouts and cries of "Jesus!" ring in my ear from the dude right behind me. During the last song, a girl in front of me is crying tears of joy, for a reason unbeknownst to me. People all around me are seemingly encountering God, and I'm standing in the middle thinking, "What am I missing?"
I used to feel connected to this experience. What went wrong? Becoming jaded has been among the top five most challenging things for my faith, but it is the most challenging things that are usually the best things for us. People don't get married, because a commitment like that is really hard. It may be because I am married now that I am finally starting to realize that walking with Jesus is hard. Marriage is in itself, however, a beautiful illustration of the christian walk. Laying your life down for someone who you love with every ounce of your being, and knowing they will do the same for you. The beauty of the Christian walk is that in this marriage between Christ and the church, he made the first move. He said that he would lay his life down, even if we won't do the same.
There is a song by Kings Kaleidoscope that has been heavily debated in christian circles, because of the lead singer's use of the word f*ck. Frankly, I don't have time to debate the use of the word, so for that reason I have posted the clean version here. If it was me, I would have avoided it only because it is a fantastic song, and many people will not listen to it because it has profanity, and that is a shame. But Chad Gardner has an anointing to write music that is relatable with the imperfect christian (all of us).
The first time I heard this song it felt like the words were coming straight from my heart. The lyrics connected with my soul in a place I was afraid to go. I started balling when Jesus says, "you know I died, too. I was terrified". There is so much redemption here. Becoming jaded is terrifying, but it is a pivotal moment in a person's walk of faith. You can either backslide, or you can press in to Christ like you never have before. You can either treat Christ like an overplayed song, or you can keep experiencing his goodness for the rest of your life, over and over.
I mentioned that for me, the conference shifted during the second to last session. A guy named Banning Liebscher spoke. He talked about the inner room, the secret place, the prayer corner, whatever you like to call it. I'd heard this teaching before, but never felt a reaction so great before this time. The idea was that God has to mold you in this place if you want to feel connected the story of Jesus, and what he is doing missionally around the world. He has to anoint you in this secret place if you want to be equipped. You have give him the time if you want to feel connected to the story. You have to develop a secret prayer life. Without it, it's like watching the third movie in a trilogy without seeing the prequels.
All of the sudden I felt like I just stepped out of the theater after watching Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, in the year 1977. I felt jaded because I hadn't been fostering a connection with the author of the story. I felt jaded because I didn't make time for the creator of my own heart. I went from wanting to want to spend time with Jesus every morning, to really wanting it, to really needing it, in a matter of minutes. 6 a.m. the next morning could not come fast enough.
Friends, I don't know what I am doing, but I know the One who knows what He is doing. It's Jesus. If I can cling to any part of Jesus it's going to happen in the secret place in prayer. In summation, I don't think this will be easy, but I've actually found a way to overcome jaded christianity, and it is a matter of taking action, creating a physical place in my closet to sit before the Holy Spirit and be changed by his presence.
I will end with another song by Kings Kaleidoscope. It seems as though Chad Gardner has been through a similar revelation as me, because just this month, the song Jumping from Jaded Heights, was released. It's part of a three part song, called The Rush. I have posted the lyric video to the rush, which, to me is the perfect punctuation mark on the end of this attempt to bring you along in my journey from jaded to captivated.