Let’s move on to chapter 13 in our book discussion of Finding Church: Devotion Without Obligation. So much of religion is crafted around fear and guilt, forcing people to do what they “should” do, rather than learning how Jesus passion begins to overrun their own and they actually have a desire to be about the things Jesus is about. That doesn’t mean there are times when we won’t act simply because it is the right thing to do, but by only living out of obligation we unwitting kill the growing affection of God in our hearts.
This chapter invites us to switch gears from doing what we “should” to a growing devotion to Christ that loving others, connecting with them, and walking with them through pain is not our obligation but the overflow of our growing friendship with him.
What would happen if we stopped doing what someone says is mandatory, and started doing what we found engaging? Would do you think, would that that lead us toward greater fleshiness, or toward greater freedom in Christ? And what would be the biggest determining factor in that?
If you see this as something the Spirit has been doing in you or wants to do in you, share how he is doing that in you. I think this is one of the barriers for religious thinkers. They can’t conceive of a kingdom where people will do what is right because he has captured their hearts. They want to hem people in with rules and obligations. But if you’ve met people who embrace a depth of life in Jesus because it fulfills the deepest hunger of their souls, you’ll know how powerful it can be.
People who transform the world live out of endearment not obligation.
Excerpt from Chapter 13:
In fact, making attendance an obligation may already demonstrate that we’ve lost the vitality of real community and have become mired in mundane rituals, demands for conformity, or internal conflicts that alienate people. Jesus talked about his kingdom being a pearl of great price. If people saw its reality, they would give up anything to be part of it. Living in him and sharing that life with others isn’t drudgery. It fulfills the deepest longings of the human heart.
Everything good does not require a commitment to do what we dislike, but to the simple joy of embracing what we truly love. Obligation presumes that our desires are despicable and lauds those who give up their desires to choose painful tasks for God. But what if your deepest desires are Godly? If he wants your joy to be full then he knows best how to fulfill you. What God identifies as sin are the desires that don’t really belong to us. They have been twisted to offer us immediate gratification or false security, while they lead us down a road to certain destruction— spiritually, relationally, and even physically.
You can find the discussion board here and see the list of topics we’ve covered. You can start at Chapter 1 and work your way through, or just join us in Chapter 13.