Christian, There’s Nothing More You Need

Something must be missing.

I’m still fighting sin. I’m still fighting loneliness, worry, and anxiety. I’m still feeling like I can’t truly show my church family what I’m going through. I look around and I see others who seem so in tune with the Lord. I listen and hear testimonies of the miraculous at work in others, and I’m not seeing that same power in my life.

Something must be missing.

Something must be wrong.

I used to be so on fire for the Lord. I mean, not recently. But for real, back when I first got saved, I had a big desire for Him. I would go to church excited, expectant. I would be so overwhelmed during the worship. I would feel His presence in prayer, or during the preaching.

But now, now is different.

I’ve been betrayed by friends, I’ve been rejected. I don’t wake up excited for church. I mean, there are some weeks when I don’t even want to go. Where’d the fire go?

Something must be missing.

Something must be wrong.

Maybe you have felt some of the above. We all have to some degree if we’re being honest. Any Christian could find themselves in these examples. Maybe right this moment you have a nagging feeling in your gut that something’s off.

So what do you do?

My brother or sister in Christ, let the following passage seep into your bones.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. – Colossians 2:6-10

My brother and sister in Christ, according to God’s Word, you have been brought to fullness. If you have placed your faith in Christ, you have been filled up with all you need.

According to this passage, there are some dangers present when we start to feel incomplete: “hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” Here’s what they look like in our lives.

Legalism

When I start to feel this off-ness, I turn to my good friend legalism. I start to look at the spiritual disciplines as a checklist that I better live up to fully.

Legalism is me saying “Christ isn’t enough, I need to do good.”

So traditions we grew up in, even though they aren’t founded in the Scriptures, become the missing piece of our walks with Christ.

So you best believe I’m never going to miss Sunday School. I’m going to always wear a suit to church. You won’t see me at movies and you definitely won’t see me engaging with the lost world around me.

Sunday School isn’t a Biblical mandate. It is a gift when utilized properly, but it’s not a mandate.

Wearing suits to church isn’t a Biblical mandate. As a matter of fact, in some ways we can become a place where people don’t feel welcome if they don’t dress right. God deserves our respect, but if our personal beliefs about dress are determines our opinions about others, we are out of line with Scripture.

When we refuse to be with those who aren’t following Christ, we hunker down into bunkers full of Christians that will eventually die out because we’re not reaching others in our communities with the love of God.

Legalism is insidious and we’re all guilty of it in varying degrees.

God’s Word and prayer are amazing things, but if we turn to them in order to ‘do good’ rather than respond to the grace of God, we’ve got things wrong.

Many of us will turn from feeling off and empty towards legalism in order to soothe our souls.

Christ isn’t enough, we must do good.

Emotionalism

The other thing I turn to when things feel off in my life is emotionalism.

Deep down in our hearts, we all want to feel loved, cared for, wanted. That’s a perfectly normal desire.

But what about when I don’t feel that?

When I don’t feel loved by God or by others, something must be wrong.

So I turn to emotionalism.

Emotionalism is me saying “Christ isn’t enough, I need to feel good.”

Emotionalism is me pursuing spiritual highs, for lack of a better term. If a new church, or experience, or program promises me a feeling of God’s presence or love for me, I chase after that. As a young man in ministry, I’ve catered to this and pitched opportunities accordingly. Come feel God’s presence, come feel His love.

Now, let me say, Jesus’ ministry was full of moments when He did just that. Where He poured out His love on those who needed to experience His love. But emotional spirituality can be dangerous.

Just as only ever catering to the mind creates legalists, only ever catering to the emotions creates emotionalists. The former is what I fall into now, and the latter is what I grew up in. I grew up in a youth ministry that created an atmosphere to play to the emotions of myself and others. When I look around today, having emotional encounters with God wasn’t enough for many of my peers. They were led astray.

Emotionalism in our hearts shows itself as spiritual FOMO. We bounce around from experience to experience, maybe even church to church, in order to find a weekly or daily moment that helps us to feel good or feel God’s presence.

The problem with emotionalism is that feelings are fickle.

If I based everything off my feelings, there would be days I wouldn’t come to work, wouldn’t love my spouse, wouldn’t pursue Christ.

So what then is the answer?

This passage gives it to us.

We have received Christ as Lord. We are to continue to live our lives in Him, rooted in Him, built up in Him, because in Christ WE HAVE ALL BEEN BROUGHT TO FULLNESS.

Christ is enough.

I don’t have to do good, or feel good (obviously this statement is in the context of this blog).

We are immature and foolish. We lean towards legalism or emotionalism. In these moments, we aren’t believing Scripture.

On ordinary days, and in ordinary ways, let us remain rooted in Christ.

Your life may look more like the book of Ruth, than the book of Exodus. There may be moments you feel like something is missing. I would encourage you strongly to pursue Christ in His Word and in prayer.

This week has been a doozie for me. I woke up this morning agitated and exhausted. Yet when I intentionally opened His Word today, something I neglected to do all week, I was strengthened to keep going.

Christ is enough.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

Cool Christianity

“I’m not cool, but that’s okay, my God loves me anyway. I’m not cool, but that’s all right, I’m still precious in his sight.”

These were lyrics to a song I used to hear pretty frequently when I was in my early elementary years. I still don’t know who wrote it, nor do I know the full song, but this was the chorus and it always resonated with my six and seven year old heart. Now I’m not implying that we should go around blaring this or saying it necessarily, but I think it’s a good reminder that we as followers of Christ shouldn’t be caught up in trying to be cool or relevant.

The older I get, the more I have come to realize that you can’t make Christianity cool. You can make it appealing through communities of faith who live distinct from the world, but being a Christian will always make you weird.

Instead of devoting so much time and energy trying to convince others (especially students) that being a Christian makes you cool, we should teach them it makes you holy.

I know that I’m still new to serving in youth ministry, but I have a deep conviction that we are sending the wrong message when we implement programs, procedures, and plans that are all oriented around trying to make being a Christian seem cool to teenagers. I grew up in this type of environment, and I fight this proclivity in my current life. We make youth camps and weekly activities about being cool and relevant as a Christian. Yet the Bible nowhere talks about how following Jesus makes you cool or relevant. If anything the Bible has a pretty clear message of exactly the opposite. There is not really one passage that hits on this, but here’s a passage from the pen of Paul describing the way he and his comrades in mission were treated.

We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. – 1 Corinthians 4:10-13

Let’s just make a list. They were:

  • seen as foolish
  • seen as weak
  • reviled
  • persecuted
  • slandered
  • considered like the scum of the world
  • considered like the refuse of all things

Okay, wow. Paul and those like him who were following Jesus were hated, despised, seen as the literal scum of the world and trash of the earth. Yet we try and tell teenagers that following Christ will make them cool.

This is a horrendous lie that does terrible damage.

Students who buy the lie of being Christian makes them cool will at some point realize just how untrue that is. What astounds me is what makes us think that this lie will work. When I was growing up, we were just on the cusp of being able to maybe make this argument since being a Christian was still being seen in a relatively positive light. Those days are no more.

So not only does telling students that being a Christian makes them cool lead to them drifting from Jesus the moment they’re first ostracized, it also is an inaccurate picture of what even Jesus Himself said regarding His followers.

You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. – Luke 21:17

That’s distinctly different from being cool.

Now I’m not saying that we try and bring students to church by telling them this right off the bat. The youth ministry I serve in does not have an ‘Everyone Will Hate You If You Come To Jesus” slogan. This is not a smart way to draw people to Jesus.

Here’s where I think the gospel can have an appealing factor. We should be telling students that when they follow Christ, they are holy. They are seen as righteous in the eyes of the Father. That they are made in His image and are seen as perfect in Christ if they submit to Him.

And just to clarify, this applies to all programming in the church. This is not just a teenager problem. There are plenty of times when we try and make church hip and cool for adults. We can use our God-given creativity, artistry, and passion in ways that make church compelling. I’m all for that. But if these attempts of creativity and artistry are for the sake of being accepted by the culture, I’m not all for that.

What makes a community of faith compelling in Scripture is their love for God, others, the community. It was their faith, love, hope, and joy, even in affliction. If we can show our communities that we are for them, that we truly love our neighbor and love the person in the pew next to us, then there will be a buzz about our church.

Christian community isn’t cool, but it is compelling.

And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit. . . For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. – 1 Thessalonians 1:6, 9-10

Tell your students about the glory and majesty of Christ, not how they can be considered cool for following Jesus, because they never will be.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach