Many years ago I sat in a church service in which the "minister" actually used the analogy of Nike's slogan "Just Do It" to refer to how to live out the christian faith. Just balls-to-the-walls, get up early, make yourself read your Bible, pray to God, volunteer at church, Be A Christian. I found it very offensive then, as I do now.
If faith is real, then it is spiritual, and originates waaaaay outside of what I will myself to do out of my human strength. My faith teaches that strength is born of weakness. That my "righteousness is as filthy rags". (read: self-righteousness). Naturally, when one loves Jesus, his radical love for dirty and diseased down and outers, his disdain for the religious leaders with all their correct answers and snobbery, and his upside-down example of loving through serving others; it does infinitely affect the way a person chooses to live their life. But the moment that this becomes requirement, and law, and some "proof" of your "commitment", something has gone horribly wrong in the presentation of Jesus and his message. Guilting people into volunteering in the church building because its all about Jesus is just limiting him in a ridiculous way. Do you read about Jesus spending exhorbitant amounts of energy raising funds for buildings and recruiting volunteers for programs? Or was it more about Love in Action? Did he not create everybody with entirely unique giftings and abilities, some of which function in the church building, and some of which the "ministerial" may never know that its people are involved in? What makes it "count"?
Not everybody ought to volunteer in kids church. There are some pretty crappy teachers who are trying to win jewels in their mythical heavenly crown by spending Sunday after dry Sunday cranking out legalisms to children in the rear rooms of our sanctuaries. I would prefer the people who are authentically drawn to that position than people who are guilted into spending their Sundays with our kids when they are actually worn out, dried out, and not getting any fruitier by legalistically doing their duty by the church.
I would prefer the illusion that people are "wasting space" in the church building by not volunteering if their commitment to volunteer has not been a God-driven incentive in the first place. Haven't we all met the self-righteous burn-out victems who raise their hand for every oppurtunity in the church, only to learn to whine about the people who don't do enough? Maybe we should just think "people"; not "programs". Maybe we should take the chance that there are zero programs. Just messy, tired people who slump into the chairs, get watered by the liberating words of God, then come to the place of giving to others through authentic revival. I think only God can revive. Guilt never worked in the olden days and its not likely to start being a great tool today.
My hairdresser years ago gave me one of the most liberating messages I have ever heard. She was talking about living out her love for God every day that she lived and breathed. She told me about *gasp* stepping away from a whole bunch of to-do lists at the church she attended. She told me how her minister probably didn't even know what she was doing in her off time, and that likely to the blind eye, she would have appeared to be a bench warmer.
And I say SO WHAT?!
Are we man pleasers, or God pleasers? Who is it that I want to be a servant to?
Suzanne's message set me free.
It began to turn the tide of what it meant for me to live for Christ.
Set us free from the prisons of religion.
You promised us freedom, and in freedom we live.
And give us grace to forgive.
And I will still not Just Do It.