“Seriously, Bullshitter to Bean-counter. What’s this gonna cost me?” –Pat Patton
As an exercise in discovering what is true about us as believers in Christ’s redemptive work, many people who attend the same community that I do, which is called Seaside, have spent the last twelve weeks attending a class called, “how people change”. It is a study in how Christ changes us by His grace. It was written and developed by two guys names of Timothy S. Lane, and Paul David Tripp. The study is full of great insight about why it is we do what we do, and where that leaves us as participants in the redemption story. It essentially lays out the nature of our relationship with Christ, describes where that places us positionally with our Creator, and then offers practical ways to live as though redemption is real. I received insight, pertaining to anger, using the metaphor of a glass of water. It follows thusly, “if you are holding a glass of water and someone bumps your hand, allowing some of the water to spill; what caused the spillage?” (that’s a poor paraphrase) My presupposition was to automatically blame the person who bumped my hand, but they offered the possibility, “what if the reason why the water spilled out of the glass was because there was water in the glass?” (again a paraphrase, though I am more satisfied with its quality). Lots of things like that, that I found very helpful. The study was not very “list” heavy. As a matter of fact, the community of Seaside is not very “list” heavy; “do this get that” sort of stuff.
I’m a big fan of lists, well sort of, I’m a big fan of finding the easy way through a given maze, and as such, if there were a list or map that showed the easy way through the maze of life, I’d be a big fan of that. There isn’t though. It’s funny how this seems to be the logical way to treat my faith in Christ…break it down for me. What do I gotta do to have a better life, to make me a better me? The quotation at the beginning of this post was relayed to me by friend Pat Patton, we call him “The General” (we being, those who know him, and call him that) (the implication being, not everyone who knows him calls him that). This was something he said to an inspector of some sort (I think) in a dream, it is a hilarious quote to use in situations where-in someone has you “over a barrel”, who knows the unique position in which they have you, and are in the midst of telling you just how unpleasant the experience is going to be. I highly suggest stopping them in the midst of this, all too familiar, diatribe with that quote. I love this quote, I always have. I love it too much. This is where I seem to begin with every struggle I have in my life. What is the least that I am going to have to do, to get out of whatever I have found myself? This was not The General’s intent for the quote, on a practical level, I miss-use the quote, and the ensuing hi-jinx are accompanied by far less whimsy.
The economy of the gospel is not: “get the biggest return on the smallest investment”. If it were, then lists would be of great value. We could do whatever it took to accomplish the things that would give us a grade that we find acceptable. This would be a very subjective pursuit, a pursuit that I’ve substituted for Christianity for most of my Christian life. The economy of the gospel is: ” my life in return for the one Christ provided through His death and resurrection”.
If Christ came to earth for the express purpose of fixing my short-falls, then all that could be said of His death would be, “Why did you have to go and do that?” If I could be fixed then Christ’s death was just a spectacle. It was not a spectacle; it was no stunt. It was what had to be done, given the seriousness of my sin. Christ died to make payment for my sin, He rose again to relinquish sin and death of its power over me. I am not fixable, I’ve died to my former self and become a new person in Christ, as described by the author, Paul in Galatians, a book in the Bible–more specifically–Galatians 2:20. Christ didn’t have to die to give me an example of how to navigate life’s struggles…that’s what life coaches are for. Life coaching only takes you so far, and that destination is well short of true redemption. Life coaches know this is true, but hey, car payments don’t make themselves; and if someone is willing to give advice that somehow makes another person’s life easier, and as a result, the second person feels obliged to help out with the car payments, then no harm–no foul. Just don’t stay there, this is not the end I seek, and I don’t recommend you should either.