The God-Plus Life

The God-Plus Life
September 17, 2015 Rick Lawrence

by Rick Lawrence

Human beings are pretty good at lots of things—there’s that whole invention-of-the-light-bulb thing, and sometimes people bowl a strike in every frame, and a few of us know how to throw people in the air and catch them while we’re ice skating. But, universally, maybe the best thing we do as humans is worship. We’re hard-wired for it. Celebrated writer David Foster Wallace said it well: “In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshiping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.”

Some of us worship God-alone, and some of us worship something else (the something-elses are bottomless possibilities). And a whole lot of us live in the vast middle of this bell curve—we worship “God-plus.” I mean, we mostly say we believe in or think highly of the big-G God, but we like to add a little something-something to our God-worship, such as…

  • God-plus-the-American-Dream or…
  • God-plus-family-values or…
  • God-plus-high-achieving or…
  • God-plus-hip-hop-culture or…
  • God-plus-sexual-fulfillment or…
  • God-plus-the-NFL/NASCAR/Golf-Channel or…
  • God-plus-social-media or…
  • God-plus-self-improvement or…
  • God-plus-Starbucks or…
  • God-plus-year-round-sports-leagues or…
  • God-plus-shopping…

You get the idea. The overwhelming majority of us are God-plus people because God-only people often seem extreme. So we like our God-worship diluted with other kinds of worship, just to take the edge off it. Another way to describe the God-plus life is the “compartmentalized life”—we like God to stay where he belongs, in the spiritual/religious compartment we’ve built just for him. So, generally speaking, we feel more comfortable telling people we believe in God than telling them we follow Jesus. And we certainly wouldn’t feel relaxed describing our relationship with Jesus using extreme language: People who say things like “I’m ruined for Jesus,” for example, tend to make people back up a step.

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I’ve always defined discipleship as a progression that looked a lot like doing well in school—studying hard, growing in knowledge, doing well on “tests.” But true disciples, people who follow Jesus and live out his mission, are captured and carried away by him. They are so “stuck” on him that the natural outcome of their attachment to him is a perpetual willingness to give over their life to him. They can’t help themselves anymore—their path of retreat away from Jesus now seems blocked by their driving fascination with him and their undeniable passion for him. The old building they once called home—constructed by the do’s and don’ts of the “normal Christian life”—has been demolished by a wrecking ball forged in Nazareth. And now…

They are bored by everything but him.

Do you hear a quiet voice inside you asking, “Is this all there is?”

Has the “normal Christian life” left you discontent and bored?

Do you gravitate toward God-plus pursuits because he often doesn’t seem big enough to handle all the problems and challenges you face in life? Or, simply, he’s not as compelling as all those other “pluses”?

Well, what if you discovered that a life of everyday awe is possible and sustainable for everyday people? What if the small, manageable, comfortable, and dulling God you’ve been disciplining yourself to follow is actually bigger, more beautiful, and more thrilling than “the normal Christian life” has led you to believe? What if Jesus seems so familiar to us that we’ve stopped experiencing him as he really is? What if you gathered all your worship-chips into one big pile and shoved them into the middle of the table, to the spot marked “Jesus”? Well, I don’t think you should do that just because I think it’s a good idea or because the church says you should. No, I think you’ll end up shoving all your chips onto that Jesus-spot when you discover, maybe for the first time that you can’t help yourself…

When you “taste and see” that Jesus is good—swallowing him and savoring him as the Bible reveals him, not as our popular assumptions diminish him—you will find yourself captivated. This was exactly our team’s mission when we created the Jesus-Centered Bible—a one-of-a-kind Bible-reading experience that highlights the presence of Jesus, and the beauty of Jesus, throughout all of Scripture. Really, it’s about reading the Bible the way it was intended to be read—with Jesus at the center of everything. We’ve just made it easier to “taste and see” him in its pages.

Rick Lawrence is the General Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible. He’s the longtime editor of GROUP Magazine and author of the upcoming (March 2016) The Jesus-Centered Life (Group).

 

 

The author of dozens of books including Sifted, Rick Lawrence has been editor of Group magazine for more than 20 years and is the co-leader of the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. Rick is a consultant to national research organizations and a frequent conference and workshop speaker.

1 Comment

  1. Allan Clayton 4 years ago

    I have been reading Where Christ is Present and this book has refreshed my outlook on my faith and the larger church picture. John Warwick Montgomery is the author, wherechristispresent.com is his book site. But this read has brought me back to the God life, and I’ve needed that. Changed my outlook on everything!

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