Wednesday, November 16

It Can't Be Hacked

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. --Romans 15:5-6

In computer terminology, the word "hack" is sometimes used as a verb meaning to alter some aspect of a program by manipulating its code, rather than using it "as is." As a noun, a hack is a less than elegant solution to a problem. My husband and I enjoy reading articles on a website called "Life Hacker." Basically what it contains are suggestions, tips, and tricks for making some parts of every day life easier to manage. I'm always amazed at how many simplified, time saving solutions are out there for a wide variety of situations.

Many of us would like to apply this same principle of "hacking" to our relationships with God. We could like to put our faith in a tidy box and keep it on a shelf where it won't obstruct the rest of our lives.

We try to convince ourselves that all it really takes to be a Christian is to show up for an hour or so each Sunday and listen half-heartedly to a sermon. We buy devotional books that look and feel more like a 12-step program for attaining happiness, rather than spending contemplative time reading God's Word. At mealtime, we slough through an insincere prayer at breakneck speed before stuffing our faces. During our commutes to work, we battle with road rage, only keeping our attitudes in check when we happen to see that the car that just cut us off has an ictus plastered to the back bumper.

This is not what it means to be in a relationship with God, and this is certainly not the type of attitude that promotes fellowship among believers. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Rome, reminds us that it is through endurance and encouragement that we find unity as we follow Jesus. Surely this cannot happen when we attempt to shortcut our faith in some way or relegate it to Sunday mornings only.

Currently, several of the community groups at our church are reading the book "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction." The title alone is accurately descriptive of how we are to engage in our walk with Christ. We are to be obedient, and consistently so, for a sustained period of time. That period of time is roughly equivalent to our life spans.

We cannot and must not think that there are any shortcuts that can help up jockey for a better position of favor with God. The reality of the Christian life is that it is a continual relationship--one that we must participate in and nurture at every given moment, in every given circumstance. There are no life hacks for this one.

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