You know the drill.
I visit my blog after a two-month absence, feel guilty about not posting since December, make promises to stay on top of it from now on, start a writing streak that might last a week or so and then… same routine.
I noticed this morning that Tyler Francke, a Twitter friend and excellent writer, is following my blog. Just knowing that Tyler follows my blog is enough to put the pressure on to keep it updated.
Tyler writes for one of my favorite sites, Sojourners, and although some of his theology raises eyebrows, I admire his honesty and his desire to journey through the Word of God with questions and challenges. Last week, I posted this tweet:
@tylerjfrancke Keep blogging, brother. I love that you hold all of us accountable to the real Gospel. Thank you.
— Jason Lilly (@WolfDreamer1112) March 6, 2014
Tyler is one of those writers who challenges other believers to strengthen their faith by studying scripture, asking questions, holding ourselves accountable for growing in our walk with God. He recently posted a biting commentary on an absurd $70 million project to create a theme park that replicates Noah’s Ark. Francke lists a number of other uses for this money that would be more honorable to God than rebuilding a famous (and now pointless) biblical relic.
“For example, Habitat for Humanity could build almost 40,000 new homes for poor families in India. World Vision could give away more than 100,000 dairy cows (along with the nutritious milk and valuable income they provide) to starving children and their parents in Liberia. Samaritan’s Purse could mobilize nearly 1.2 million emergency medical kits to serve the poor and needy all over the world.”
This is where Christian institutions often miss the mark. Churches, for example, view missions as a charity or a program that operates outside of the church. Church funds, then, are too often spent on projects that may be well-intended but do little to help the “least of these.”
The focus of the Church should be to care for the poor and needy, not spend a fortune on projects that seem more worldly than godly. [Tweet that!]
I think about people like Bob Goff, author of Love Does, who publishes a national bestseller and donates 100% of the profits to Restore International, an organization founded by Bob that “seeks to find daring and audacious ways to combat human rights violations, including forced prostitution and slave labor.” Instead of building a replica of the ark, Restore Int. builds schools.
I think about people like Mike Yankoski, who willingly gave up everything (money, possessions, a home) to live on the streets and fellowship with and empathize with homeless men and women who struggle every day.
Or Shane Claiborne, who decided early in his walk with Jesus to take the biblical call to be “set apart” very seriously and inspire others to do the same. Shane also works to serve the homeless and fights injustice of all types, including hot button issues like war, the death penalty, abortion, and the environment.
I admire people like Tyler, Bob, Mike, Shane, Brandon and Jen because they motivate me to check my own walk and see if I am in step with Christ. They hold me and other followers accountable without making me feel guilty. And even though their choices come with challenges, they press on with a joy that can only be from God. I read about their challenges and I see them living Proverbs 3:5, trusting in God rather that their own understanding. In her book 7, Jen Hatmaker admits to the misery of cutting things out of her life to make more room for God. But she admits it with such grace, humor, and understanding that it is easy to see her drawing further from her own desires and closer to the heart of Jesus.
Lives like these hold me accountable for my own life choices. I don’t mean they make me feel guilty, but there is a conviction of heart that grows as I read about other Christians who take Jesus very seriously and live according to His standards rather than the world’s standards.
So the pressure is on for me, to keep this blog updated and (more importantly) to keep my relationship with Jesus updated. Thank you, Tyler, Bob, Mike, Shane, Brandon and Jenn for the motivation to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.