I have to confess, I’ve never seen the movie. But, having spent a good 20 years of my life around electric guitarists, it would have been impossible for me to not know about Spinal Tap. And a quick YouTube search gave me all the context I need. The guy with the hat, trying to talk logically to an electric guitarist is a feeling I’m quite familiar with. “Why don’t you just make 10 louder and make 10 be the top number…” It makes logical sense. To which the guitarist replies: “These go to 11.”
Before you tune out, no this isn’t a post about music or electric guitars or amplifiers. I love all my electric guitar playing friends, but this is merely an illustration.
I’m concerned. We have a major problem in our Christian society today, and it doesn’t appear that we’re addressing it. And no, I’m not talking about the present day moral concessions we have made.
Another illustration to set the stage. I have yet to start saving for retirement. Our church isn’t in a financial position to provide that for us. Maybe some day. But, it also seems so far away. Yeah, I just turned 40 this year, but retirement is still 25-30 years away. In fact, neuroscience tells us that one of the reasons many people don’t save for retirement is that we can’t see ourselves that far out into the future. That person is a fictional character in our minds.
Now, back to the problem. What is it? We are so wrapped up in the pursuits of this life, whatever those may be, that we have completely crowded out our relationship with God.
For many of us, our finances are stretched to the max. Credit cards are maxed out, we’ve got multiple car loans, home mortgage, plus the 20-30 monthly subscriptions to services like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Sock box, mystery box, glam box plus many more.
This causes us to push our work capacity to its limits. We have to work as long and hard as we can to be able to provide for ourselves and our families the lives that they deserve. Which causes us to push our physical health and well being to the max to be able to work as much as we can. We’re sicker now than ever before. This also causes us to push our mental processing capacity to the limits, exhausting our store of will power before we even leave the house for the day. By the time we fight through traffic on the way to work, we start the day in a rage.
Which in turn causes us to cram out important, significant relationships with fellow believers and like minded Christ followers. Which has the side effect of spending less time at church, less time with God and less time talking about what God is doing in our lives. Which we can’t even see because we’re so focused on other things.
We’re living our lives at eleven. We’re being driven my an economic machine fueled by our constant connection and comparison to the lives we see others living on Instagram and Facebook. Heck, we even compare ourselves to who we were 3-8 years ago when Facebook reminds us what we were doing on this day, which creates a sense of longing and desire.
Our marriages are at eleven, our finances are at eleven, our health is at eleven, our emotions and mental state are at eleven. And because it’s all we can do to keep up with all these demands, we’re dropping the spiritual part of our lives on the key shelf when we walk in the door. Where it gets covered with sunglasses, bills, invitations, etc. until it slips down the crack behind the shelf. Where it will stay until the next time we move, or a major crisis knocks us off our feet.
We think we will have time. “I’ll have time to work on that later. If retirement is 25-30 years away, I probably won’t be dead for 35-40 years, maybe longer. So, there will be time to work on that later. I just need to focus on me right now, I need to get what I deserve and build the life I have dreamed of. After I’ve done all that, then I’ll start to focus on the Spiritual stuff.”
We’re living all of life at 11, that is, except for our spiritual life. We’re living every area of life at 11 except the one that matters most. More and more our spiritual life is that knob on the amplifier that we don’t even know what it does. We know how to hurry, hurry, hurry. We are hurried in every facet of our lives except for the one that matters most. We’re hustling at work, with our kids, with our hobbies, with our recreation and all the things the dominant sources are telling us are important right now. While our hearts and spirit are atrophying, drying up and being blown away by the winds of modern society.
I’ve been trying to sound the alarm, but not many are listening.
We don’t have as much time as we think. We think to ourselves, “I just need to ____________ first, then I’ll make God a priority.” I just need to focus on myself for a while. I just need to focus on my family.
James 4:14 “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
We don’t have as much time as we think. We mistakenly think there will be time left someday for the important things while we chase dust bunnies today.
One of the things that is missing in many churches today are the godly, wiser generation. I don’t mean this to be rude, but there aren’t very many in our churches these days who have been walking passionately with the Lord for generations. You know, the ones where it almost feels like you’re in the presence of God just being around them. The ones who if they sin, it’s because they only shared the gospel 5 times this week instead of their usual 10. The ones who speak and their conversation is just peppered with scripture because they know that more than anything else. There just aren’t a lot of those around anymore.
Why do you think that is? I have a theory. It’s because we’ve been living by the “I’m just going to focus on me first” philosophy of life the world lives by. So, we have lots of believers who are older, but their spiritual maturity is what it was 40 years ago.
You may have heard the phrase: “You can’t microwave discipleship.” It’s true. Incredibly true. We live in a have it your way right now world. We don’t value much of anything that requires long periods of time. We especially don’t value them when the payoff is somewhat ethereal and imperceptible. But, that’s not the only thing I know to be true about discipleship. There’s no download button for Christlikeness. It happens over time. Long amounts of time.
Discipleship compounds with age. What I know about my own life with Christ, is this: I’m only learning what I’m learning now because of what I learned last year. I wouldn’t have learned that if it hadn’t been for what I learned the year before that. Likewise, there are things that I wasn’t ready for God to deal with a couple of years ago that God has been working in me this year. If I wasn’t walking regularly with God, much of what I have faced in the last year would have devastated me. While it’s still been difficult, God has gotten me through it. Because discipleship compounds with age.
I want to be that old guy in the church, who is so full of the joy of the Lord and so full of His word and so constantly overwhelmed by His presence that just my life itself is something that encourages younger Christians to want more of Christ.
We can’t live the life of this world at 11 and neglect the life of Christ entirely. We can’t let it slip behind the key rack and pick it up when we’re in a desperate situation with the hope that we’ll have what we need in that moment.
We have got to WAKE UP!
This world has nothing for us. This world wants nothing for us. They only want something from us. We’ve got everything upside down. This world we’re addicted to is the upside down. It’s only Christ that things get made right.
I wish I could sit down with everyone who reads this article and gently ask you questions about why this thing or that is so important to you. I wish I could ask you what belief you are basing your pursuit of this life upon. I wish I could help you figure out what really has control of your heart. If you want to sit down and talk about it, I’d love to. Send me a message and we’ll grab coffee. Seriously. If you don’t live close by, we can connect by video somehow.
Here’s the hard part of what I have to say. No, I’m not being doom and gloom. But, look, our entire culture is living life at 11 right now. We have absolutely no margin for error in any area of our lives. We don’t have financial margin, time margin, relational margin, recreational margin, ambitional margin or any other kind of margin. We’re maxed out, stressed out and wore out. Everyone’s mad at someone. Anxiety is through the roof. We are probably the most volatile people in the most volatile situation ever.
If we don’t figure out how to get back to what really matters and make God the first and utmost priority of our lives, we are setting ourselves up to be pawns in someone else’s war. We may get sucked into the bickering and the argumentative nature of our society and because we’re maxed out on everything, have no remaining reserves of willpower, we’ll enter the war without thinking about what it might cost.
I started to write: “If we’re not careful, we’ll be pawns in someone else’s war.” But, this is no longer a time for being careful. We’ve been careful for too long and it’s cost us too much. So, flat out, it’s time for the people of God to stop trying to balance God among the plethora of spinning plates in our lives. We’ve been careful and tried to be politically correct and tell people they can have it both ways. But you can’t. Jesus said so.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”(Matthew 6:24 NIV)
God is a jealous God and He wants ALL of you. He will not share your heart with the other gods of this modern society that we are choosing to worship. Especially when we give them such precedence over him in our lives. Enough is enough.
Rise up, O church of God. Now! Before it’s too late.
You and I are not guaranteed tomorrow. We’re not even guaranteed this afternoon or tonight. All we have is today, right now. This is the moment we have to give the most important things in our lives the priority they deserve.
What are you going to do?
If you’re ready for more, reach out to me. I’d love to talk to you. If you’re ready for more and you live in the Vancouver, WA area, you should come checkout SixEight Church. (68church.com) This is what we’re all about.