Monday, January 07, 2008

Are We Willing to Listen?

One of my favorite TV shows involves small companies that find themselves in terrible financial shape. If things don't change very soon they will have to close their doors. So they invite an internationally known expert in to help. He's run their kind of business successfully on two continents, has written books and starred on TV. The expert tells them what they need to do to survive and seems to really want them to succeed.
What amazes me week after week is how much resistance he gets from the people he's trying to help. Remember these are businesses that are on their last legs. If doing things their way had been a good idea they wouldn't have to call in this guy. But they stubbornly stick to what they “know” about how to run the businesses.
As I watched the show the other day I started to laugh because it struck me how much the situation is like our relationship with Christ. (I laughed because this is probably the ONLY time this expert will ever be compared to Christ. He's abrupt, he's insulting and he needs to be “bleeped” about every fourth word.) We may not be on our “last legs” spiritually (but maybe we are) but we aren't operating under ideal circumstances either. In church speak you hear the words sinful, fallen, broken, imperfect or even dysfunctional. Whatever term you choose it means we're not functioning at our best. We're not getting the maximum amount of joy out of our existence. (Quick note I believe there's a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness comes and goes with the winds of this world. Joy comes from much deeper and isn't as easily swayed by what goes on in the world. I believe that joy is what God wants for us.) Our outside expert is Jesus. He knows what it means to live this life, he understands what needs to be done and has some simple, straightforward answers on what needs to be done. Better yet he's willing to take the time to work it out, and he doesn't suffer from the potty mouth syndrome of the guy on TV!
Unfortunately all too often we act like the people on TV. Yes, we understand what we need to be doing. Yes, we understand that we'd be better off doing some parts of our lives differently. Yes, yes, yes. BUT. But I'm really more comfortable doing it this way. But it's not really hurting anyone. But no one else is doing THAT, everyone is doing THIS. As illogical as it seems from the outside once we start dealing with what goes on inside ourselves suddenly we find things that we just can't/won't/don't want to change. We will fight to cling to ideas and behaviors that will make us not only unhappy but that keep us from being joyful.
The funny thing is that Jesus managed to sum up everything pretty neatly. He points out (Matthew 22:36-40) that everything grows out of just two concepts. It's not a long shopping list of dozens of things to do, it's just two ideas long.
Love God completely, and love your neighbors the way you'd like to be loved. Simple. Not easy mind you but not all that complicated.
So let's make our goal to not live our lives like those people on TV. Let's listen to the expert and see what our lives could look like.


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