When God speaks to you through Ricky Bobby…

sphe-talladega_nights_2006-Full-Image_GalleryBackground-en-US-1484000554780._RI_SX940_Movies speak to me.  They have since I was a kid.  It’s really just stories in general, but being a visual thinker, movies and television have always had a huge impact on me.  In fact, when I write my own stories, I’m generally just trying to describe the pictures playing out in my head.  So it’s no longer a surprise to me when I receive revelation while watching a movie.

Even one as stupid as Talladega Nights.

Don’t get me wrong, I laughed my hiney off watching this movie tonight.  I needed to laugh.  It’s been a rough few days for me.  I try extra hard not to be, but I’m a very dramatic llama sometimes.  And as the meme says, “sumbody dun brokt” me.  Or rather a small army of “sumbodies”.  drama llama

I’ve been experiencing different forms of rejection from people I love for a while now.  And, even though I need to build a bridge and get over it (thank you Hannah Montana), it still hits me where it hurts and makes me eyes choke out tears.

Tonight, watching Ricky Bobby pray to “baby Jesus” over and over again did my heart a giant world of good.  If I can do it somewhat succinctly, I want to try to explain why.

Without going into too much detail (or any really), let’s just say that some people don’t agree with some things I believe and I don’t agree with some things they believe.  I think that pretty much sums up all arguments, ever, over all of time.  But you get the idea.

The real problem (at least for me) is that I worry that what I believe affects my relationship with God.  I really want to follow Jesus.  I want to be one of the scruffy, common, uneducated disciples traipsing around the desert with Jesus, breaking all the rules and changing the world.  I live in fear of being a Pharisee, thinking myself righteous and holy while in actuality living a life of selfishness and pride.  I live in fear of being so self-deluded that I believe I walk among the righteous, when in fact I am walking straight into the gaping maw of Hell.

But this is flawed thinking.

This kind of thinking is changing the beautiful words of Jesus from:

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:35

To:

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if your theology is perfect and you have interpreted my words precisely.

John 13:35

How often I have quoted John 13:35!  I love this beautiful verse.  I have tried to live by it.  But I fail.  Oh how I fail!  I stop measuring my discipleship by love and start measuring it by my theological prowess.  And let’s be honest, I don’t have much TP (theological prowess) to begin with.

I’m not the only one.  A lot of us measure our worth as disciples by our understanding of scripture and how well we follow the “rules” as we understand them.  We read our bibles, devotionals, listen to sermons, read books to further our understanding of the “rules” God has “set out” in His word.  We each develop a new set of commandments that we live by based on what we have learned over the years.

And then we become deeply devoted to these commandments.  So devoted that we begin to fear for our loved ones who don’t adhere to these commandments.  Even if our loved ones are doing their very best to follow Jesus in the only ways they know how.  Even if our loved ones are as deeply in love with Jesus and committed to Him as we are, just doing things differently.  We’re afraid that loving Jesus and desperately trying to follow him isn’t enough.  Because, as we established above, we’ve changed the definition of disciple unwittingly from love to knowledge.

I’m not saying all this because I’m judging the people who’ve hurt me.  I’m saying all this from my own personal experience.  I’ve done all of this.  I’ve changed the meaning of discipleship from love to knowledge.  I’ve been afraid that loving Jesus and trying to follow him isn’t enough.  I’ve made my own set of commandments and judged others for not living by them.  Over and over and over and over and over…

As I grow and change and evolve, so too do my “commandments”.  They must change because my understanding of scripture has changed, my vision of Jesus and God has changed, so my commandments must change too.  And the cycle begins all over again as I judge others by my new set of rules.

ughUgh.  I’m getting tired just thinking about it.  It’s so terribly boring and pharisaical.

And that’s it right there.

Watching Ricky Bobby pray his ridiculous and completely hysterical prayers tonight, I realized that we’re all just trying to follow God the only way we know how, well those of us who are trying to follow Him anyway.

And I realized what a hypocrite I am, what a Pharisee.

What I realized is that anyone can be a Pharisee – conservative or liberal.  A Pharisee is just someone who believes that perfect adherence to a set of rules makes you holy and righteous and definitely holier than those who don’t perfectly adhere to those rules.  The rules actually aren’t the important part, it’s how well you adhere to them that matters.

Dang.  Mind explosions.

I was a big, weepy mess before we watched Talladega Nights.  I honestly didn’t think it would cheer me up.  The world was completely ending.  (I’m a dramatic llama, remember?)  And I really didn’t expect to have a huge revelation that would lead me to shift my thinking in a major way.  But it did.

Thanks, Ricky Bobby, for helping me to remember that we’re all just trying to follow Jesus in the best way we know how (those of us trying to follow Jesus anyway).  NONE OF US WILL EVER GET IT PERFECTLY RIGHT.  But if we are truly His disciples we will endeavor to love one another.  That is how we will know we are His disciples, by our love for one another, not by our perfect execution of our interpretation of scripture.

People have hurt me, rejected me because we don’t necessarily believe the same things, but that’s ok.  They’re just trying to follow Jesus the best way they know how.  I can love them even if we don’t agree.  I can love them even if they don’t love me.  Well, I don’t know if I can but I know I can try.

#gofast

 

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You beautiful creation, you, let’s abide

You are a unique, one-of-a-kind creation, made in God’s image, carefully hand crafted by God himself in your mother’s womb. He programmed your DNA, wrote your software, designed your hardware and made sure that you wouldn’t be like anyone who has ever existed. He knows how many hairs are on your head right now and how many you lost in the shower this morning. He knows the name your parents gave you, the one you secretly call yourself and even the one you don’t know about that he alone calls you. He knows when you took your first breath and when you’ll breathe your last.

You are a unique, one-of-a-kind creation.

< Insert Sarcasm Here >

And now that you’re a part of God’s family, we’d like to show you what it looks like to be a unique, one-of-a-kind creation, hand-crafted by God. You see, he likes his unique creations to all look unique in the same way. There are rules, standards, protocols.

I know that we told you that God loves you just the way you are, and he does, please don’t get us wrong, but now that you’ve accepted that love, we believe you should strive to look and act the way that we do, according to how we’ve interpreted the Bible. Yes, we know that others who call themselves Christians have interpreted the Bible in different ways, and we believe they love Jesus, they are just misguided, bless them. There is only one way to interpret scripture and we’ll teach you how.

What about grace, you say? You have grace, it’s a free gift from God, it absolves you of all past sins. But now that you’re a Christian, don’t you think you should try to quit sinning and live like Jesus and the apostles? They are the example we were meant to follow and we are the body of Christ, meaning we represent Jesus here on earth. If we don’t strive to live good lives, how can we expect God to bless us and insure our place in heaven? After all, everything we do on earth is getting tallied up to decide how many jewels are in our heavenly crown and how big our mansion will be. Don’t you want to hear Jesus say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant?”


Oh beloved… Remember your first love.

2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

Revelation 2:2-5

Do you remember when you eagerly sat at the feet of Jesus because your heart was a puddle and you knew only he could restore you? Do you remember when you absorbed teaching like a sponge and prayed for anything that moved or breathed and the first note of a worship song could bring you to tears before anyone started singing? Do you remember yourself before you woke one day to the knowledge that you were learned and scholarly and knew more about the Bible and God than your peers? Do you remember when you still believed we were all unique, one-of-a-kind creations, hand crafted by God?

When did we stop believing God made us unique and start believing there is a pattern, a mold, that we must fit to be a “real” Christian? When did we start measuring our faith, not by our love, but by our knowledge and righteousness? If God truly made us unique, doesn’t that mean that someone else might live out their faith a little differently than you? Should we keep judging ourselves by the standards Paul laid out nearly two thousand years ago in a different world and culture? Women should not teach, slaves should obey their masters… Have we learned nothing?

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:1-5

If you are a branch, you cannot prune yourself. The vine grower/dresser does the pruning. If you are a branch, you cannot prune another branch. The vine dresser does it. Only God does the pruning… Let me say that again for those in the back… ONLY GOD DOES THE PRUNING. It is not up to us what gets pruned from ourselves or from anyone else. We must simply abide.

It is the simplest and yet hardest thing to do: abide. But to grow, to really grow, that is what you must do. Get your eyes off the other branches and focusing on growing.

1 “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. 2 For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

Matthew 7:1-5

Beloved…

I am shamefully and woefully guilty of this. But my deepest desire is to go back to the beginning, find my first love, sit at his feet and simply abide.

Unique, one-of-a-kind, beautiful beloved… will you abide alongside me?