Spiritual IKEA

Who knew that so many people would embrace assembly-style furniture? Massive IKEA stores have sprouted across the country, bringing a European style to younger families. It’s affordable, but you must assemble it. Commenting on their purchases, many have chimed in chorus: “Putting it together actually makes you appreciate it more. Anybody can do it.”

Last night I received a phone call from a friend who was asked to prepare the eulogy for a family funeral.  He was asking for instructions and tips and I responded, “If you knew this person, you can tell his story.  That’s what you’re doing.  Anybody can tell a person’s story if that’s what they’re asked to do.”  And I’m confident he will tell that story, peppered with his own personal memories and affection.

Can anybody put into practice the teachings of Jesus?  Does it take someone unique or authorized to hear Jesus’ instructions, see His example, and choose to live and love like Him?  For centuries, people believed that it did.  The Gospels were impossible to understand without professional help.  Let me make this clear: that was a lie.  Most of Jesus’ instructions are straightforward.  Most of Paul’s, John’s, Peter’s, and James’ instructions are too.  Yes, sometimes we are so far removed from the culture of their time that things feel wonky or confusing, but that’s the exception, not the rule.  “Anger does not produce the righteousness that God requires.”  One simple sentence led me to dive deeply into confronting that issue in my own life, because when I read it, I asked, “If this is true, what must I do?”  That led me to confession, self-examination, counseling, and a steady journey that has brought healing to my heart.

Most of it isn’t complicated.  What complicates it is a very simple issue:  Jesus said these things for the purpose of TRANSFORMATION, not INFORMATION.  Like a coach that explains a technique or a play, Jesus instructed us so that we could make different choices and put into practice what He modeled.  A person can be incredibly knowledgeable and still not put anything he/she has learned into practice.  ACTION, friends, is the goal of the Gospel!  Not action to earn grace, but action because we have experienced the grace of Jesus.

“Pray without ceasing,” Paul wrote to the early church.  I’ve been trying to obey that.  So when I wake up in the middle of the night, more and more I think of people who need Christ, I think of my family, I think of people in the church and “pick up the conversation where we left off” with Jesus.  It’s not burden or duty.  It’s spiritual breathing.  And it’s accessible to ANYBODY.

Consider it “spiritual IKEA” for the ordinary person!  So, friends.  Will you “shop” the scriptures?  Assembly IS required.

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