Recapturing the Wonder – I have taken this title from a Ravi Zacharias book called Recapturing the Wonder. The book captivated and refreshed my own curiosity. I hope for this blog to be a spark for dialogue and exchange – where ideas are shared openly, questions are asked, and opinions are offered in a spirit of humility and grace. Let’s learn together – within community.
Here’s a summary of a talk I recently gave at an outreach dinner in the hopes of rekindling curiosity in regards to Jesus:
I love looking through the window of my child’s eyes – their lives are full of dreams and wonder and discovery! My twin boys Bo and Ben have been curious since birth, full of adventure and mischief and they’re just complete goof balls. I have no idea where they got that from! Now 6 years old they may be a little less “cute” and a bit more “handsome”, but still goofy and full of imagination and curiosity.
Then our blue eyed beauty Caia entered the picture, and was quickly nipping at the heels of her brothers. Though she is definitely our princess and the motherly one of the lot – she too is full of laughter, imagination and creativity.
And then God gave us number four. Rhea is cute and crazy. A perfect example is the road test … where the other three would step outside look to the road, look to the backyard – and then head to the backyard to play … Rhea’s heading to the road and the unknown … and more than once we’ve lost her for a second and she’s already a few houses down the road checking out the neighbours!
Their wonder and curiosity brings my wife Cristy and I so much joy. We are grateful for each one of them, and I’m admittedly just a little proud as I’ve been told “I make really cute babies” but we know where that really comes from (see beautiful wife) At least Cristy and I have figured out a means of control when things get too crazy! (see below)
I read a quote once from Plato, who believed that all philosophy began with wonder until it was replaced with knowledge. He argued that there was a world of difference between belief and knowledge. Belief, he said, was the position of a child; knowledge was that of an adult.
It is no wonder that many of us have seen our curiosity diminish as our knowledge has increased. We’re knowledge gluttons … we love new information and yet too many of us are missing out on the application of that knowledge – too many of us are so busy that we are unable to slow down and we miss the BITE – the beauty in the everyday.
Our friend Karen Schmidt sends out a regular BITE blog that is filled with stunning pictures of the beauty that she encounters and captures on film. The Schmidt family left our church family in 2013, and have been serving as missionaries in Indonesia. As I see her pictures I have loved the reminder to slow down and see the beauty that is right under my nose as well as above and around me.
I think again of looking at my children. We enjoyed a wonder-filled routine for most of our first two years in Victoria. Every Monday was my day off and we used it to explore this city and the island. It was so much fun, one because we did it together as a family, and two because I’ve been so amazed that almost every time I turn a different corner in this city and island there’s yet another beautiful sight to behold and experience to be had!
Yet, like many of us, work and life and busyness have choked away this routine. Even as I prepared this I was confronted with the reality of my own capacity for getting to busy – even with good things.
But again, as I interact with my children, I see how their curiosity and wonder leads them into their experience. As they discover new sights, new knowledge, and new experiences their curiosity is sparked. They are growing and learning – they are being shaped and molded, and yet they remain open to change and new experiences.
Though all of us are filled with knowledge, I wonder how many of us would like to rekindle our curiosity and wonder?
Question: How many people are interested in spiritual things in your city? In my experience over this last three years – people are typically fed up with religion … but they are very open and hungry for something spiritual. There’s a gap or an emptiness or something missing that they can’t explain. They may realise some of their dreams (job, wealth, travel, reputation, success) but it’s not fully satisfying a deeper longing within them. That being said, most people simply don’t think Christianity is a relevant option anymore.
I often ask if they’ve sincerely considered the message of Jesus – because it is a fantastic story. If you check it out, his life and message evoked everything from fear to fascination – from amazement to anger – from indignation to inspiration.
He acknowledged that he came for those who knew they needed something more (who knew something was missing) … not those who thought they already had life sorted.
Case in point – here’s a real life story I’ve been engaged with over the past year. Last Fall I met a recently released man I’ll call Joe. Joe had no history with the church, only recently picked up and started to read the Bible, and yet upon his release felt compelled to go to a church his first Sunday out…and of all places he came through our doors. The first two men he met were both ex-cops! Next he was introduced to me, and we began a friendship that has continued to this day. Joe had no knowledge of Jesus, so he was full of curiosity. In fact, once he started reading the Bible, he believed what it said! I saw the transformation in his life happen right in front of me – of his perspective, hope, the chance at new life and beginnings, of love conquering hate, of redeeming relationships that were previously broken. Though he is currently finishing off his sentence, he release is soon and I’m so excited for him. I’m curious to see his dream for a second chance at life and family realized and turned into a real life miracle – of a family redeemed and restored, of a man who has so much potential to live his life for God and the uplifting of others going through similar circumstances.
Michelangelo said that every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. Michelangelo believed that the statue was waiting inside the stone – it was the sculptors job to chip away the parts that don’t belong.
I used to think I was ‘all right’ or worth something to God because I went to church, read my Bible, prayed, sang songs, and did my religious duty. Yet as God has been at work in my life, I’ve realized that the Bible isn’t just a giving a message that gets me saved … it’s a message of how a saved person lives. In fact, it’s frankly not about me and what I do – it’s all about who He is, what He has done and is doing, and who I am in light of that. Simply put, if this is true – I owe him my life. My belief in the impact of the person and story of Jesus has been cemented as I journey through life and experience people’s lives being transformed like Joe, and I reflect on the transformative work God has done in my own life.
Some of you reading this will have had negative experiences with churches and people who call themselves Christians. You’ve seen messages in the media that have possibly cemented that knowledge. I hope as you read this that the hunger you have for something more or something better would compel you to reconsider investigating Jesus’s life and message. Christianity may look like religion – and it has definitely been used religiously, sometimes with horrible consequences and hypocrisy. But if you look for yourself, it’s not about religion … it’s not about the do’s and don’t … it’s about relationship … and it’s about what’s been already accomplished. It is a creation story – of a world made with purpose (including you) – where God and man relate intimately not institutionally. I hope each and every one of you finds your curiosity rekindled … knowing without a shadow of a doubt that there is a message of hope that includes the claim that you were created for a purpose and hold incredible value!
We know that value is determined by what a buyer is willing to pay – so consider your value based on how much God was willing to pay to redeem you … He sent the world His Son – and He took His Son’s life as payment for the brokenness of our world. Then, when things seemed as out of control as they could get – his Son, dead and buried, God raised him from the dead – overcoming brokenness and death and offering us all the hope of salvation here and now and eternity with our Creator!
Consider this C.S. Lewis comment: A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher…either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.
In my role as a pastor of outreach and mission, I have the privilege of equipping and hopefully inspiring people to get out of the church building to engage in our city; to put knowledge and faith into action, and to engage with neighbors, colleagues and our city. We are grateful for favour in our community as we’ve rebuilt trust and relationship with a variety of schools and community partners over the years. As they’ve been willing to share their story with us, they’ve also offered us an opportunity to partner and collaborate with them. We love joining them because we appreciate how they’re serving and blessing and teaching kids and parents in our community.
Why do we engage? At the core, our ultimate motive will always be to point people to Jesus because we have experienced his work in our lives and we absolutely believe it’s the greatest message and life there is. But, there is no ulterior motive. There’s no bait and switch. We love our city because God first loved us and this city. We are compelled to serve and sacrifice our time, energy and finances because Jesus first served us and sacrificed everything, including his life for us.
If you’re reading this, and are wondering where to start – I encourage you to find a Bible and start by reading a book called John. At the end of his writing he sums up his purpose like this, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his followers, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Though I’ve been a Christian for quite a few years, I’m still filled with wonder and awe as I consider the radical life and message that Jesus lived and shared, and the radical grace of God to relentlessly remain faithful to his creation; to redeeming and restoring every single one of us to a right relationship with Him.
Here’s to recapturing wonder in 2014!