I am not real active on Twitter. I confess. I do more reading, liking, and retweeting, than actually coming up with my own 140 character nuggets of social media lore for all my followers to internalize.
A couple days after Christmas, I retweeted this tweet by the Church Curmudgeon. A Curmudgeon, by the way, is a cranky surly person. That grey-haired neighbor who never hands out candy at Halloween. Giving you that in case you don’t get anything else while reading this entry, so at least you did a little vocabulary development.
The next day I was running some errands and picking up a couple of gift cards that were going to be used for door prizes at a youth all-nighter. I went into Taco Bell….”Sorry, sir. We are out of gift cards.” I traveled right down the road a block or two to Wendy’s….”Sorry, sir. We are out of gift cards.” Started seeming to me that this must have been the popular gift this holiday season. As a side note, I did get one from Chipotle, which seemingly, no matter how busy they always appear, they never run out of anything.
Two days later we took three hungry college-age boys, two of which had never been, to Olive Garden. You can imagine the conversations on the way there about the perfectly buttered, warm, lightly garlic-seasoned breadsticks, and the mouth-watering blend of salad, with large crunchy croutons and just the right amount of zing!! The anticipation mounted as we had to wait about 15 minutes for our table. We are finally seated, order our drinks and appetizer (free coupon), and settle in for a nice dining experience together as family and guests. You can imagine our overwhelming disappointment when the server returns and informs us that the 9 breadsticks she just brought to our table of seven (don’t forget three hungry college boys), are the last breadsticks in the restaurant for the evening.
All of these occurrences, as well as reading a blog by someone else about his take on Christmas without Christ, caused me to do some reflecting. Is there anything I am without? Is there something I am out of? Some missing element or ingredient that would make life more satisfying and complete? My mind went back to my retweet, and the satirical wisdom of the curmudgeon.
I don’t want to be a Christian without the Holy Spirit.
I know there is an entire theological debate and thesis in that statement, but you know what I mean. I want to be “filled” with the Holy Spirit. The problem is, that it is not a once-and-for-all event. The words Paul uses in Ephesians 5:18 indicate a “keep on being filled constantly and continuously” type of filling.
Systematically and programmatically in the church I believe we try and call this discipleship. How can I grow closer to God and live a life identified as being “filled with the Holy Spirit?” But discipleship is not a program or a system. It is a lifestyle.
There are reasons behind why Taco Bell and Wendy’s were out of gift cards. There are reasons why Olive Garden ran out of breadsticks. These probably have to do with some sort of breakdown in the system of communication or how the internal programs work in those business organizations.
But there are also reasons why people would get more upset if they discovered the Wifi is out, than if the Holy Spirit had “left” the church. I think we sometimes look at discipleship in the church the same way we look at the church Wifi. It is one more thing I get from the church. If the church does not have any more “discipleship gift cards” or if they are out of “discipleship breadsticks”, then someone is not doing their job. Or maybe I will just buy, eat, or worship somewhere else. But discipleship is so much more than being taught or trained in a classroom. It is a life All-in for Jesus.
Discipleship is about discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit. It is about studying God’s word in personal quiet time, and hopefully in some type of group setting with others. It is about sharing with others areas where Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, has transformed my life. It is not a program. It is not a system. It is not a class. Are you listening? The voice is usually not very loud. It is many times illogical. It is usually uncomfortable in what is being requested of you. But the voice of the Holy Spirit is always timely.
And unlike Olive Garden, there are always enough breadsticks. Just ask the guys from Mark 6:43.