“Try Jesus. . .”
Two months ago, I would have issued this challenge to the average Christian, perhaps the legendary Joe Six-Pack, who, once a week, becomes Communion Wine Joe:
If you’re going to call yourself a Christian, read the Bible, but don’t stop there. Read every theological text you can get your hands on. Don’t just peruse Joel Osteen’s feel-good crap; dig into the denser stuff! Try Kierkegaard on for size, or Dostoevsky; contemporary writers like R. C. Sproul and William Lane Craig could also be of use.
Then again, never forget your critics. Listen to what they have to say. Always bear in mind that, before the Madman raved that God is dead, Nietzsche, like his father before him, studied to become a Lutheran pastor.
I mean, Nietzsche had such a firm understanding of the Bible that he was able to parody numerous biblical themes in Thus Spoke Zarathustra without sounding pompous, foolish, or derogatory. That took a serious understanding of Scripture and amazing craft as a thinker and a writer. You’d learn a lot if you studied Nietzsche and Kierkegaard and. . .
. . .etc.
I could go on, and two months ago, I would have. But now I lack the motivation. I also lack the energy.
For the past month I’ve been working sixty to seventy hours a week as a ramp agent at Kansas City International Airport, or M.C.I. The prior month, I worked the normal full-time, forty hour per week schedule while I trained for the position. All the while, as a freelance writer, I have continued my twenty to infinity hour “work” week. (All of this, by the way, is my excuse for my extended absence from the blog. . .) To the point, I will add only this: I imagine that it is “next door to impossible” to be serious about something as all encompassing and time consuming as Christianity while also holding a full-time job that has nothing to do with the study of Christianity. Tack on a spouse, some children, and/or ailing relatives one must provide care for, and massive words like “conviction” begin to swell.
Of course, I must think on my good friend Austin Reed, who is the same age as me (twenty-seven), who has a wife, three kids, a full-time job where he treats and disposes of chemical waste, and who, beyond simply reading chaps like Nietzsche and Sproul (and Kant and Barth as well), also writes about them. Granted, his wife Liz gives him a great deal of support, but that doesn’t make his plate any less full.
Certainly, however, souls like Austin, Christians like Austin, are rare. At least, most Christians seem to regard their spiritual leaders the same way I regard scientists, albeit with more reverence, (for the only things I take seriously these days are jet engines):
Most Christians, before examining an issue for themselves, will take their leaders’ word for it. Life is simpler that way, and the game is on.
Although it’s not that the average Christian doesn’t want to devote himself more to studying Christianity; rather, it’s more often the case that he lacks the time and thus the energy to do so. Otherwise, he might lapse into self-deception whenever the idea of Bible study crosses his mind.
This is the line and lie that crops up the most in the hearts of the average would-be anything:
I can always do it tomorrow.
But “tomorrow” is always a sales pitch, a temptation, as it were; it most often means never. This is something we all know, and yet we all surrender to it every day.
Perhaps the reason I work so many hours is to avoid the aggravations of life outside of work. Today I can say, “I’ll get to that once I have a day off,” and before my weekend arrives, I may volunteer myself for overtime. (And there’s always plenty of overtime at the airport.)
Perhaps two months from now I’ll revert to my former self and condemn casual Christians for not taking their vows seriously—-that is, in accordance to what I deem as serious.
But for now, on my way home from the airport, I drive down Cookingham Road and read a small yellow sign nestled amongst the foliage. It says “Try Jesus,” and each day I find a new reason to laugh at it.
Try Jesus. How pathetic!
Try Jesus. Maybe tomorrow. . .
Try Jesus. Sure, I’ll try, but in the meantime, I need to drink some more coffee so that I can drop a deuce more easily, because I’d rather not use the bathroom at work. I’ve just woken up, and I’m already running late; I honestly have no time to spare.
Howdy. My name’s Justin Volker, and I’m a freelance writer from Kansas City, Missouri.
Those of you who have read Randy’s mission statement about this blog network will be aware that, in both ‘faith’ and ‘narrative’ posts, some writers will challenge or conflict with the theistic position.
I shall be one of those writers.
If you’re curious about my beliefs and desire clarification, well–I’m rather agnostic about a lot of things, but I do enjoy discussing religion and the place of religion in the life of the individual and in the spiderweb of society. Perhaps in the process of contributing to this site, I will come to an opinion more definite than that, but for now, this is all I can say.
I hope you enjoy reading what I write. Thanks.
About This Blog
This is a blog for challenging assumptions, building faith, and developing a stronger community. The two channels of this blog – Faith and Narrative – push us to know ourselves and the world around us more intimately. Want to learn more about us?