Congratulations! You made it past the initial shock of this blog title. So before we go on, let it be known that I believe the Bible is God’s Word and that it is a vital piece of our faith and followership of Jesus Christ. However, I want to address a certain pandemic sweeping through churches across America when it comes to what I call the desire for “More and Different".
So what is the desire for “More and Different”? Well, have you ever said or thought, “I just want to go deeper into God’s Word”, “I just wish the teaching wasn’t so shallow”, “I don’t think I can grow anymore at that church”, “I don’t want to join a community group, I just want to do a Bible Study”… or something of the sort? Well, I’ve heard, said, thought, and agreed with most of these types of statements. For the sake of this blog, I’ll call these statements the desire for “More and Different”.
Let me be clear, I do believe that some teaching is too shallow. I do believe that we need more and more of God’s Word. I do believe that there are times where God calls us to commit to another local group of believers. But, often times, I don’t think that is really what people want. Wait… no... often times I don’t think that is really what they NEED.
If you or someone you know has the desire for “More and Different,” ask these three questions:
1. Do I have the desire for “More and Different" because it will mask my lack of action and obedience to God?
It’s easy to sit around and talk about who God is and what He has done for us. It’s another thing to live lives out of obedience, out of response to who God is and what He has done for us. I think Christians like to fill up their knowledge tank because it makes them feel superior, and it helps them cope with not having to live a humble life that is draped with love, grace, and sacrifice. At the end of the day, I believe you already know what God wants you to do… be obedient to His Word. Has your knowledge of who God is outpaced your obedience to what God wants?
“He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’” Luke 11:28 (NIV).
2. Do I have the desire for “More and Different” because I am actually scared to experience the fullness of God?
For you, the Bible is a safe place. It becomes a substitute to venturing into the mysterious depths of God’s power, grace, and love. You read about God parting the Red Sea, but you still read it as a children’s story. You are fearful to actually know a God that could part the Red Sea in your own life. You want to study more about Acts and how the Holy Spirit fell upon the believers and lives were changed. But you don’t want to accept the fact that the same Spirit dwells within you and wants to do great things in and through you. It’s comfortable to continue to hear sermon after sermon, but you stay on the shore of your faith, cheering on what God is doing from afar. It’s time to ask God to lead you to new and deeper levels.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 (NIV)
3. Do I have the desire for “More and Different” because I feel stuck in my relationship with God and/or others?
This happens often. You don’t feel the same way that you did once in your relationship with God. Even your human relationships, or at least the ones that mean the most to you, seem lacking. So naturally, you are looking to some new insight in Scripture, or to a sermon or new church to help jumpstart things. All the while, what’s really creating a barrier in your relationships is simply un-confessed sin. I don’t say that lightly because I know all too well the difficulty of this practice. But at the same time, I also know the incredible roadblock that the lack of forgiveness can put up first between me and God, and then between me and other people. So instead of venturing into the deep waters of confession, you simply put a Band-Aid on it by filling your mind with more of what Scripture says about confession or you try a couple more sermons. Instead of shedding light on that thing hidden deep, you change the environment and go on to the next church. Could it be that the very key that opens the door blocking you is already in your hand? Simply use it. Confess and experience both the freedom and healing that God promises.
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” James 5:16 (NLT).
Know that I am specifically praying that the Holy Spirit helps you see if your desire for “More and Different” comes from one or more of the points mentioned above. I pray that you would, then, have the boldness to step forward and into whatever God has next for you. It’s worth venturing into the unknown because we have a God who has been faithful in the past and will continue to show Himself as such in the future.
Finally, if your desire for “More and Different” does not come from one of the motives mentioned in this blog, then go for it. Join a Bible study, dig deeper, listen to different sermons, and ask God if there is something else He is trying to teach you.