We use formulas because they give us a clear path.
Go to college for 4 years and study hard. Maintain a B average. Get your degree. Find a job with good benefits. Retire in Florida. We like the security this formula provides. Keep to the recipe, minimize risk, and safety and success are practically guaranteed.
There are two problems with this approach. The first is that nothing in life is guaranteed. No matter how diligent your are, life will surprise you with unexpected twists and turns.
The second is that it leaves out what matters most in life; the part about living.
Think about makes you who you are. The pursuit of your passion. The joy of making a difference. The transformation that follows conflict and struggle. The delight that comes naturally with your loved ones. The magic of love. These are aspects of life that sit outside the formula and what makes you a person and not just a resume.
We often approach our relationship with God using a formula. Go to church. Believe. Get dunked. Go to church with a tie on this time. Read. Pray. Go to church again.
We turn the crank on the box and out pops Jesus.
When we try to describe our relationship with God using a spreadsheet, we miss out on what makes that relationship special. The elements of the formula are helpful and important, but we must see beyond these practicalities.
If we look past our routine or the box that we put God in, we can see so much more. If we are willing to place less emphasis on the integers of our equation provided by the security of our church culture, then we can experience more of what makes God who he is.
The formula produces church attendance. It results in people who do all the right things and not necessarily people who are in love with their God. We need to love him more. And if we love more, we will be more bold. And if we become more bold, who knows what might happen next. Probably something better than church attendance.
We need to be less rigid and more relational. We need to get out of our formulas of religion.
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