Your mindset walking into a particular situation is usually what will determine how successful the outcome is. I'm realizing this truth over and over again both in my own life and as I take care of my kids.
I started a regular routine of making my kids bike with me while I ran a 5k route from my house this summer. It's definitely been met with mixed reviews. For me, I figured that it'd be good exercise for us all, get us out of the house, and get my kids more confident with their bikes… all of which are good things. In reality, I didn't realize how difficult it is to manage three separate strong personalities who each have differing ability on their bikes and who disagree on whether these bikes rides are a good thing or not. We've had several crashes with varying levels of injury, we've had mechanical problems and flat tires (involving me carrying a bike all of the way home), and we've had attitude issues with kids not getting along with each other and complaining the whole time. After learning from some of these debacles, my kids and I now take a moment at the beginning of each excursion to get ourselves into the right mindset or else we're usually in trouble. You see, if we start out with someone complaining, or frustrated, or angry, chances are that it's only going to get worse as the trip goes on. Whereas if we start with a determination to have fun and enjoy, we usually do.
With this truth in mind, I've been thinking and applying it to the church. I've seen a clear distinction that's been made throughout the COVID season of people who came to Christ with the right mindset and those who did not. Let me try to explain.
Romans says "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved." (Rom 10:9-10) This is the bare-bones template of salvation through Jesus Christ… belief in Him and confession of His Lordship. However, I see a lot of Christians who believe in Him, but show very little submission to His Lordship. When you confess Jesus is Lord, you've given over your own self-determination of your life. You've given Him the authority to guide and direct you. Your life has now been forever changed so that Jesus is the most important priority… the priority that everything else in your life revolves around. Jesus isn't an add-on to your life, He has become your life.
When Christians are barely seen at church because they're caught up in other activities like camping, hiking, sports, etc., they're acting like their desires are more important than Jesus' desires. When there's a prayer meeting or a time of worship and these people don't want to participate, you have to question where the focus is, on themselves or on Jesus? When people don't want to serve in any ministry, but still demand to be served by the church, they're fulfilling their own wants, not Jesus' heart for others.
Now hear me clearly, I don't want to be legalistic about any of these things and there's always cases of extenuating circumstances. There's a balance to this on the other side that is real and valid. However, the truth of the matter is, there have been a lot of people in church who don't function day to day like Jesus is actually in charge or the centre of their lives. When they came to Christ, they didn't come with the right mindset. Jesus explained it like this, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26-27) Basically, anyone who puts anything before following Him isn't really a disciple. The church spends loads of time and resources trying to cater to these people who aren't really disciples, trying to entice them to come to events, trying to serve them so they'll keep coming back, all the while hoping that they'll finally "get it" and start actually serving and functioning like Jesus is their Lord and Master. In all fairness, some people do get that revelation and make the transition, but I see a lot more people get disillusioned and fall away.
It's just about impossible to manage people with the wrong mindset. It's exhausting and frustrating for all parties. It's so much more fruitful to take a moment before you start the journey, make sure you're thinking the right way, and then proceed. The good news in Jesus is that if you have the wrong mindset or have been living for yourself, all you have to do is repent and realign yourself with the truth. Realign yourself with the fundamental truth that Jesus is Lord and order everything else in your life around that. You'll be forgiven and things can change.
Just like my kids and these bike rides, it's amazing how peaceful and fun life can be when you start out with the right mindset.
If ever you need help or want to talk about these things, feel free to contact me at email@example.com