Thursday, July 26, 2007

Former oldhat Christian

I feel a little unoriginal by blogging for the second time today about something I heard someone else say, but...well, inspiration comes from everywhere.

Driving down the road this afternoon I was listening to a radio preacher, and he was teaching a very unique point about Pauls words concerning "forgetting that which is behind".
He was saying it's not about forgetting past failures, but instead, forgetting past successes. He went on, and since I can't quote him word for word, or copy/paste his words, I'm going to have to tell you about it in my own words. So consider this a stolen post. :)

Last night at church, I was profoundly disappointed. Until the guest speaker and his wife arrived (our pastor and his family were taking a well earned vacation), I was the only one there. The entire service consisted of the three of us. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind small numbers. We're a small crowd anyway, and two of our families recently had surgery (one on Mon, the other on Tues) and one lady was working.
But for no one else to show up? No one?
I confess, in my heart I just wanted to know what they were doing.

I struggled with deciding what to think about the whole thing. Do I be disappointed? Do I blow it off? Do I "in love" think no evil, and assume they all have really good reasons?

While I was still wondering the best course of heart (not action) I heard this sermon on "forgetting that which is behind". And it stirred me. The preacher was talking about setting aside our past successes that make us confident.

It made me think. And oh, how I love thinking.

It's part of the trap of becoming an 'old' Christian. You have a tendency to become an oldhat Christian. And my church - a lot of churches - are full of just that. Oldhat Christians have been there. Oldhat Christians have fought the battles. And just like any army, as the oldhat Christians aged, they were moved from the frontlines of battle to the desk job. They now train others how to do their old jobs. That's all well and good, but at some point in doing all that, they became someone that has more head knowledge than passion. I'm more likely to find them reading the bible (or in my case - blogging about the bible) than helping the single mother fix her sink. And probably more likely to find them sitting down during the worship service than crying during it.

Do you remember your past successes? You may not think you do. I didn't think I did. I really didn't. But then I realized that's just not true. I have a sense of entitlement based on my years of service. I'm not a newbie. I may not be a general in His service, but I guarantee you I'm no new kid on the block. I expect God to take my years of service into account. Who cares that I've only had a good relationship with him for 5 years.

I've been raised in church. Been working and helping in church ministry all my life. He should count that on my record. Write it down. Gold attendance stickers. Memory verse awards. Surely He takes these things into account when I pray. And even in those years before a good relationship with God, I didn't do any of the major bad things. No drinking, smoking, I don't even use the tame bad words. God knows.

Again, it's about mindset. It's not about God not caring that I've served Him for years. It's about me serving God as though I've served Him for years. The first day Robin became sidekick to Batman, he was probably ecstatic. 2 years later, it was just routine. I don't want my service to the King of Kings to ever become routine. Whatever I've done for Him up to this point, is like dirt compared to what He deserves. The only thing even remotely worthwhile that I have to give to serve God with is my whole heart, my whole being. And even then, He's just being nice to let me serve. He doesn't need my service. He's just being nice. Has God need of man?


But because of the very nature of who He is: Yes. He desired an outlet for His love. "Let us make man in our image", He said. We add something.

All that said: I need my service today, to be as passionate and love inspired as it was the first day I knew God. It is a privilege to serve Him. And I only have so long to be able to do it. So while I'm here on this earth, I pray my heart remains steadfast and passionate. I'd rather be fiery, easily excitable, enthusiastic, rather than stoic, even tempered, and experienced.

Let me count my own previous works as dross. And my future works as the gold.

Update: Hours later, looking at this post I'm wondering if it's unkind. I count myself among the number of oldhat Christians, but I somehow doubt my church family would appreciate my applying the metaphor to them. I'm especially concerned with expressing the fact that they disappointed me.
If you have any wisdom that would say I was wrong to blog this the way I did, please feel free to tell me. As it stands, I feel obliged to keep it up. This is my walk. I'm going to make mistakes on my walk, and if I need to do a public apology I will.
I love my church family. I love them. But, much like I'd wish for anyone I care about, I desire better for them than what they've got. A closer walk than what they've got. It's the exact same as I wish for myself. And you.


Anonymous said...

I pray that your heart always stays steadfast and passionate and an outlet for His Love.

flyawaynet said...

Thank you Nancy I can always use it. The exact same for you.

Mikey's God Talk said...

A small number gathered in His name is akay. The verse says "when two or three are gathered I will be there also" So you had three, God was there. I hope your kidding about your years of service "qualifying" you for special consideration.


Sista Cala said...

I appreciate your candor on this subject. You are right, 'old-hat'Christians have lost their passion. I have been in some services where people were getting saved and the only ones really showing any excitement were the altar workers. I say, 'shake us, wake us again O LOrd.' I don't want to be an old-hat, I want to be versatile and new every morning in Him. Thank you.

One Sided said...

I know a whole lot of Christians who have never taken their hat out of the box and tried it on.

I know there is a reward system, but in the story Jesus told the Farmer paid the workers who came at the last call the same as the workers who started early in the morning.
But then they did not get the fellowhip, or lunch in the vineyard.

flyawaynet said...

Mikey - I wish I was kidding. Imagine though, you spend all day Saturday all by yourself on your hands and knees scrubbing the floor. Sunday the pastor gets up and asks for volunteers to scrub the floor in the other room.You feel a sense of entitlement. I did the other room by myself! I don't have to volunteer for this one.

There's no work quota with God though. It's just your whole heart. Everything. Every day.

flyawaynet said...

Sister Cala - I'll never forget watching the production of Heavens Gates Hells Flames. Have you seen it? This group goes church to church and sets up their entire stage with the help of the church members, then they hand the church members scripts and they are the actors.
Anyway, the show is one scene after another, people dying. This one doing drugs going to hell, this one going to heaven. One man in particular was saved on the jobsite moments before a wall fell and killed him.
The audience, filled with Christians of every kind/denomination, seemed to sit like rocks. I clapped at the first few scenes where someone was welcomed into heaven (entirely embarrassing my pewmate who half-heartedly attempted to support my clapping efforts). It was sad.

God preserve us all from such a fate.

flyawaynet said...

"But then they did not get the fellowhip, or lunch in the vineyard."

One-sided, I love that thought! And I needed the reminder that comes with it concerning my own life. Thanks.

SLW said...

Zeal without knowledge is not good (Prov 19:2), but neither is knowledge without love (1 Corinth 13:2). Really, about the only remarkable thing that can be said about old hats is that they're old. I hope I'm not falling into that slot!

Anonymous said... crack me up. You may be getting older in years...but you speak with the love of a youthful heart.

you have youth and zeal and love. i once was there, without the knowledge. i fell away for many years. however, you are seeking the knowledge. you are in a wonderful place right now and you are a blessing. a beautiful, wonderful child of God. God loves you and so do I. You are the one that can be an inspiration with your zeal. Do now lose heart.

flyawaynet said...


I look forward to the day of falling into that slot (old, not oldhat!) slw. I just hope the farther down this road I travel, I never forget my first love.

flyawaynet said...

HA! You nailed it Nancy! You said I have youth, zeal, and love. I want to remain EXACTLY that, until I one day become defined as having age, zeal, and love. :)

You gave me the words I couldn't find Nancy. Thanks!

Sista Cala said...

Yes, I have seen the play; actually participated in it once. I too have seen the reaction you spoke of. Comfortable and complacent, just pew warmers. It will take real brimstone burning their flesh to make a difference.

flyawaynet said...

Sister cala, I participated in it once also... ironically enough I was cast as one of the devils minions. I musta made some first impression. ;)