Recently a friend of mine challenged me to find a quote that inspires young Christians to live the adventure of the Christian life. Doing so was harder than I thought it would be.
First, my friend offered this quote:
“Every day God invites us on the same kind of adventure. It's not a trip where He sends us a rigid itinerary, He simply invites us. God asks what it is He's made us to love, what it is that captures our attention, what feeds that deep indescribable need of our souls to experience the richness of the world He made. And then, leaning over us, He whispers, ‘Let's go do that together.’” - Bob Goff.
I didn’t like it, but my friend argued that I am too intellectual and too dark. He said that I’m so serious about the weight of following Christ that I miss the excitement of the adventure.
He may have a point. What do you think? Personally, I just think its impossible to back that quote up biblically. Where in scripture does God ask us what it is he has made us to love? Or where does he ask us to decide what should "capture our attention"? I agree I can be too heady, but I’m serious about the weight of following Christ because Christ is. He calls us to die after all.
Next he offered this one:
"If life is an adventure, then Christianity is the greatest journey. The stakes and rewards are both high and eternal, and our Companion on the voyage is God Himself. We do not have to walk around with long faces or beaten-down hearts. The Lord has provided us with enough joy, blessing and purpose to make living exciting." - Cheryl Pfingsten
I thought that was better. I liked the recognition of the high stakes, but it left me feeling unsatisfied. How has the Lord provided us with joy and purpose? This has always been my problem with short “inspirational” quotes. They can’t have context. So at best they can only be sentimental, and mere sentimentality is a cancer in the church.
Perhaps now you also think I’m too dark and intellectual? That may be, but please consider the damage done to our kids when we reduce the truth of God to Footprints on the sand plaques and embroidered pillows.
If the Christian life is a real adventure, then you aren’t going to capture it in fancy lettering or soft lighting. Real adventures have real danger. Their meaning is discovered in blood and death; in sacrifice and pain. From our couches it’s easy to talk about the “stakes being high,” but if they actually are high then, chances are, you won’t escape with your life.
The problem is, I think, that we have all been caught by the lie of our age. That Christianity is about feeling better. That the message of Christ is supposed fix our feelings here and now. Should we really not walk around with long faces or beaten down-hearts? Tell that to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane when he was sweating blood. Do we really think we can “drink the cup” that Jesus drank? We don’t know what we are asking. The cup won’t be just a little bitter, but mostly sweet; scary but not really scary. It will be suffering and death. And we will drink it. Jesus will make sure of that (Matthew 20:22-23). The Christian life is a call to die to self. Paul says, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” (Romans 6:3). Make no mistake. You will die, and it’s Christ who will hold your head under water.
No, if the Christian life is an adventure, then it’s not the fun kind. It’s the meaningful kind. More than that, if the Christian life is an adventure, it’s first the adventure of Christ, not me. The story being told is not of my long suffering through torture or my courage in the face of Hell’s gaping jaw. It’s of His. Otherwise why would Christ tell us, “...Take heart! I have overcome the world!”
Only after Christ has overcome does the Christian life become our adventure. Only in light of the resurrection can we have the peace that surpasses understanding in spite of all the pain and death (Phillipians 4:7). The Christian life is NOT about feeling better. It’s about dying well. And then (the then after resurrection) it’s about living an adventure that is so abundantly full of life that we can not even imagine it while we are still in the flesh.
So, my conversation with my friend ended in me taking a stab at writing my own “inspirational” quotes. If I am going to deconstruct then I should also attempt to construct right? Well, I’m still skeptical that the form of short inspirational quote can ever be a good medium. But here are my attempts. What do you think? Leave your comments below, I’ll respond.
In the end, when Christ bids us to die to self, he does not say to do it alone. The command is actually "Follow me! Follow me into death and into resurrection and then on to life abundantly forever!" See, this life is merely the prequel. Whatever joy or excitement we experience here are only foreshadowing the true adventure to come; because when Christ finally comes back, it won't be the end. It's the beginning of the story God has always meant to tell.
Life in Christ is the greatest adventure of all! The journey is nothing less than death to sin and the world. But do not fear; the journey is so much more! It’s also a journey into life, into joy, into beauty and all that we were ever meant to be! Why? Because life in Christ is also life with Christ.
Feel free to put those on plaques or embroider them on pillows if you want, but maybe also cite this whole article. You know, for context.