Like any group of people to live on this ball of rocks and trees and Instagrams, we long for the good life. We each have this ideal in our head of what it really means to live and we tend to idolize those who seem to be living it already. Some want Clooney’s fame. Athletes dream of being an Olympian. Even our next door neighbor seems to have it better than us. And that drives our lives. If I do X, Y, and Z then I will finally achieve my ideal life.
Followers of Jesus are not immune to this. We formulate what our ideal faith would look like. What would it be like to have the boldness of Paul? Wouldn’t it be great to live fearlessly like Bonhoeffer? How much sweeter would it be if our family was just like the Voskamp’s? I’m guilty of the same thing. If I could love like Bob Goff or be honest like Donald Miller or be as genuine as Pastor Kevin then I would be living the “good life” of faith. For some reason I assume that their faith in Jesus, their journey toward intimacy with God, is better and easier and more exciting than mine. I watch the re-runs of my life and think to myself, “Wow this is boring. I wish my journey with God looked more like _______.”
And I think that makes God sad. I think it makes Him sad because we miss the depth of our story, the conflict. Behind Bonhoeffer’s bravery and Bob’s love and Kevin’s sincerity is a lot of messiness. There is this vast backstory of sleepless nights and dragging days that we skip over when we flip to the end, but it’s the slow working out of our lives which paints the conclusion so beautifully. It’s the months of fear that make asking her out so rewarding. It’s the years of depression that pop the color of finally found happiness. It’s the decades of hardship that deepen the bond of marriage like no other. In the slow and dirty backstory we find true faith. Not our ideal faith, but true faith.
No one showed us this better than Jesus. He lived the true life. He was fearless and sincere and loving. But it wasn’t glamorous. And it’s funny, I don’t find myself envying Jesus like I do Bob and Don and Kevin. Why is that? Maybe it’s because my ideal faith is the opposite of Jesus’ life, selfish. It’s all about who I am, what I have, and what I want to accomplish. I make true faith – surrendering the entirety of myself – just the opposite. And jealousy grows like a weed in my heart.
Jesus life, the quintessence of faith, is the personification of selflessness. But glamourizing faith, making it out to be a heroic venture in which we are praised for our love and honesty and sincerity, restricts us to the shallow end. We’re suffocating under all of these clean and colorful floaties, terrified to let go of our ideal faith. The dirt and blood and thorns of our backstory may not look ideal but they free us to be selfless. They pop all the stupid floaties so that God can teach us how to swim in true faith. So congratulations, you can go in the deep end with your Dad. Mud, blood and all. Enjoy the cool and refreshing freedom of deep waters. I dare you to find the bottom.