I had a conversation with a teammate the other day.
Because I care about him and his spiritual security right now, I will only give the details as they are necessary.
But I’m fired up.
I was sitting in the cold tub. After practice, we go and get in this oversized bathtub thing that can either be really hot or really cold. Right now, it’s really cold. We sit in it for muscle recovery. It’s the equivalent of icing your whole body at once. It’s pretty sweet. Anyway, I was sitting there with a couple of my teammates. One of my teammates and I had a conversation. And it went pretty much like this…
Teammate: Man, I can’t stand how (another teammate) tries to act like a Christian when he really isn’t much of one.
Me: Yeah, I know what you mean, man. It gets me fired up, too.
Teammate: I mean, don’t get me wrong, I don’t live like I’m supposed to, like a Christian, but I also don’t fake it, either. You know what I’m saying?
Me: Yeah, I feel that. I understand. College is hard. It’s hard to really live legit because that’s a very hard thing to do alone. The Church today really lacks discipleship.
The Church today really lacks discipleship.
And Jesus was like, “HELLO! Don’t you see?!”
This teammate– let’s call him Adam– is one of my favorites. He’s a dog, man. He really is a phenomenal athlete. I love to watch him play. And, he has been a really good social asset. No matter what, he has been there for me as a friend. He’s funny. He’s just a great person to play with– not unlike a lot of my teammates. I genuinely love the kid, and I would do anything for him. Adam goes on during this conversation to really explain about how, basically, he took a real spiritual interest in being like Jesus in high school. He really got into the Word and was walking the fine line. This was due, in large part, to being a part of a religious organization in his community. The person helping guide this walk for him, though, ended up moving away. Now, he’s totally opposite. And he’s told me this before. You can see it in his eyes– it hurts him that he isn’t like that anymore. And the truth is, Adam is not that guy anymore. He is into the things the world has to offer. But this isn’t the first time he’s given me the, “I used to be all about it. And I’ve just fallen off,” spill.
So, why am I fired up?
Typically, when it comes to this spiritual dynamic where people used to be all in and are now all out, I tend to get very accusatory. This is not good of me to do, usually. But, I’m a huge stickler for being authentic in your faith. Witness is your most important asset as a Christian. You must never damage it. And if you constantly damage it, I see that as a lack of spiritual awareness– or even salvation, in some cases. Of course, it’s impossible to be perfect. But there are a lot of things and sins that are simply optional. So, it’s the Jesus thing to do to simply say, “No.” When we don’t… that’s not good.
I’m fired up because the Church has failed Adam. Christians have failed Adam. Here he is– he knows what’s going on. He knows what life was like chasing the Lord. He knows what it’s like ignoring the Lord. He has mentioned several times how sin makes him feel– like garbage. He just can’t seem to kick that stuff to the curb. And I’m not pointing fingers at him, either. Being a Christian in college, as you’ve heard me say before, lowkey sucks sometimes. No one tries to sit around and debate the existence of God with me. That’s not the issue. The issue is that no one cares. No one cares if you’re a Christian. They either think they are, too, or they know that, if you’re authentic about it, you’re not going to party and drink and sleep around, so why bother you? The spring semester last year was hard for me. It’s hard to be one of the only people living like I do. It is very difficult to spend lots of time alone. But it’s necessary. It’s what’s asked of me. It’s going to come to an end one day. I’ve got this teammate who belongs in this lifestyle. He belongs in the arms of Christ.
But no one ever showed him how.
You can look at all of the Gospels. There are so many times where the disciples say something wrong or dumb, and Jesus is like, “No, no, that’s not how it is.” The disciples cannot be disciples by themselves. That’s why they call Jesus rabbi— teacher. Just a second ago, I said that I don’t blame my teammate for being like he is. Normally, I would get fired up at someone for knowing what the truth is and choosing to ignore it. But Adam changed my heart today. And that’s because the Church is (circumstantially) more to blame.
He fell off because no one was walking with him. There was no discipleship. None. Zero. He had no accountability. He had no real guidance. He lost his guidance when a huge influence in his life moved away. And he couldn’t do the whole Jesus thing, pragmatically, alone. That’s not entirely his fault. Continuing to sin, knowing the consequences, knowing the truth– I blame him for that. And, if you’re reading this, “Adam,” it’s not a shot I’m taking at you. I love you. And I don’t want to see you continue to fall and remain unfulfilled.
But I don’t blame him for not being able to do it alone. No one can. I can’t. I’m the person I am, first and foremost, because of Christ. But I’m not near the practical Christian– and I’m not a good one— that I am without some of my past influences. I’ve been discipled. I’ve got other people to carry my burdens. I’ve got people to go to. I’ve got people who have figured out some things that I haven’t. Adam doesn’t. And didn’t. So, naturally, wouldn’t he go back to what he knew? Well, yeah. Duh. I would, too.
Where are the rabbis at?
I’m so sick of seeing and so discouraged by the amount of salvations and spiritual interests that go by the wayside because the Church won’t step up and disciple these people. I’ve seen this happen too much in college. Salvation is wonderful. But salvation is an instance. Justification– the process by which the Christian grows in Christ– is a process. And it’s a very complicated process. How do you engage in the process of justification if someone doesn’t help to guide? If it was automatic, the Church wouldn’t need to exist. Christ wouldn’t have needed people to preach His word. But He does. Adam fell off because Adam was alone. No one discipled him. They said, “Congrats. Here’s a Bible. Here’s a church. Here’s a club to join. Here’s a group of distant friends. Good luck.”
And that’s on us.
Ezekiel. Chapter 3. God tells Zeke, “Listen. Let the Israelites know this– if they know the truth and aren’t living by it, that’s their fault. If they know the truth and aren’t asking each other to live by it, that’s their fault. If they know the truth and explain it, that’s all I ask them to do.”
The Church today never gets that close. We clap at a baptism and just expect magic to happen. If you know Christ, and you aren’t acting like it, shame on you. That’s unacceptable. If you know Christ, and you aren’t actively trying to share that, shame on us. We’re failing. If you know Christ, and you know someone else who needs to, it’s time to get after it. The Church lacks discipleship. It’s about time we turn this ship around. There are too many Adams out there. Security leads to authenticity. Authenticity leads to surrender.
The Church lacks discipleship.
But guess what? The Church isn’t a building. It’s a body of people with independent thoughts and actions. So, let’s stop acting like a building. And let’s start acting like Christ.
The dying out of faith in those around us is simply unacceptable. So, we fix it. End of story.
I’ve seen the Lord– the same? I’ll never be.