I thought back to 1985 as I was reflecting on the things God is teaching me about myself. Warning: what I'm about to share is neither nice nor fluffy. It's hard for me to swallow and may be for you.
I'm afraid that the reason that my faith as it is being lived out lacks very much power. Certainly it doesn't compare to what Scripture promised that believers would experience. After a lot of searching through the Bible and my own heart, here's what I've come up with. In the lives of most Americans, we worship a modified Jesus--a new Jesus, if you will. Like the makers of new Coke, we have changed the formula that has worked for so many years. Then we scratch our heads when our imitation of faith comes up far short of the "real thing."
For most of us, Jesus isn't the powerful Savior of the world. He is a good luck charm that we place on our shelves to protect us from the bad things. His teachings? We take them as good recommendations...like a friend who recommends a good restaurant. Jesus didn't give us that option. He didn't say you could pick and choose what to listen to or what to obey. Universalism isn't in His language and half-heartedness does not impress Him.
Dying to self? It's a command.
Praying for our enemies? It's a command.
Loving our brothers? Ditto.
Losing our life so that we can find it? Hard, but still, not an option.
Like you, I have wondered why the Church can't find the power it held in the book of Acts. Like you, I wonder why we believe in God, worship His greatness and then live like He is dead.
The answer. I think it resembles the story of new Coke. We're trying some other option. We've gotten away from the formula that has worked since the dawn of Creation--God and God alone will satisfy.
Here's my formula for fixing the weak, anemic thing that we Christians refer to as "faith." It begins with this prayer. Maybe you'll join me in praying it...and then live like we want to be different.
God, forgive me for making you something you never claimed to be and for being something you never desired for me to be. Starting today...and every day...I'm asking you to be the one, true God in my life. I want to live boldly, radically for you. Sacrifice and holiness are what you have asked for. Let me give you nothing else. No more room for compromise. No more room for modified faith. I'm asking you to come roaring out of the box that I have tried to keep you in. I'm asking you to be the God who spoke the Universe into being, the God who is completely capable of doing and being and providing all that I really need. I want the real thing.