Have you ever had so many thoughts bumping around inside your head that you feel like you can’t focus on any of them? It happens to me all the time. You see, I wear many hats. I’m a pastor, a musician, a marketing consultant, social media manager, husband, father, friend, etc. I’m also a thinker – not in the sense that I have some deep philosophical contribution to make to society, but in the sense that I think long and hard about a LOT of stuff. I process information 87 different ways. I am usually able to argue both sides of an argument, to derive a positive outcome from just about any situation and to extrapolate some kind of life lesson out of whatever calamity I find myself in. In short, my mind goes 100MPH and honks its horn loudly when people get in the way.
Recently, all of those thoughts (and the thoughts spawned off of those thoughts) have been colliding in my brain like a nuclear reactor. They’re good thoughts – thoughts that, if organized, could lead to great things personally, professionally and ministerially. Organizing them, however, is a little more challenging. This kind of thought-bouncing can drive a person crazy…or, it can drive you to action.
When thoughts collide, sometimes they reveal a piece of your heart that has been, up to this point, hidden. When I look back on my journey thus far, I realize that most of the things that I’ve done in my life that I would call “significant” have come from these thought collisions. When I felt like God was calling me into ministry, but that I couldn’t do it unless Melody was there with me, I proposed to her. When I knew that God wanted me to become a better musician and also a better leader, we moved our newly formed family from Tennessee to Ohio and dove headlong into church planting. When I felt the urge to take a break from full-time church ministry but still felt like I should be involved in whatever it was that God was doing in worship, we again moved our family – this time to Texas so I could work for Vineyard Music.
When I think back to these moments, they were all preceded by a level of discontent and a period of hyperactive thought. And here I am again. But this time, it’s different. This time, frankly, it’s less about me. I would like to hope that it’s partially because I’ve matured some over the past 10-15 years, but whatever the reason, I’m not so concerned about what I “do” in the future or where I “end up”. I’m way more focused on how we – me, Melody, Lucy, future kids, the Church, our friends, our family, etc. – can further the cause of Jesus in the world. In many ways, I’m thinking about much larger things. At the same time, my thinking is less grandiose and more practical.
I think a lot less about the millions of details that may be involved in “God’s will” and a lot more about the two things I know he has asked of me…and of you: to love Him and to love other people. It is “Jesus 101″ and yet I fail at it over and over every single day. I fail in small ways, by not being considerate toward my wife or not paying attention to the person that takes my order at the restaurant. I fail in big ways, by turning a blind eye to the plight of the poor or judging entire people-groups without ever seeking to understand them. And so, I’ve begun to think on those two simple commands. Love God and love others.
Who knew it would be such a Pandora’s box? You know what it means to love God and love others? It means everything. Jesus said “the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” To think on these two ideas means that you think about loving the Father, Son & Holy Spirit and loving the people they love. You think about how you spend your time, your energy and your money. You think about how you invest in people, how you treat people, how you love them – if you love them at all. You think about inequality and injustice, poverty and human trafficking, clean drinking water and clean streets. You think about disease, famine and natural disasters. You think about politics, religion and the strange bedfellows that they make. If you truly want to love God and love all of his people (and if you’re a thinker), you start thinking about all of this and more.
And the more I think about it, the more I come to the same conclusion. Yes, there are a million things that I could and should be doing. There will be many moments now and later where I am forced to choose whether I really mean it when I say I love God and love people – when I will be required to put my money (and my time, and my energy) where my mouth is. There will be opportunities for me to do a lot of good and to impact a lot of people. But no matter how much I do, if I’m the only one, it will only be a drop in the bucket.
That’s where the community of the Church comes in. In my lifetime, I can only adopt or foster so many kids. I can only take so many mission trips. I can only donate so much cash to a limited number of causes. But the Church? The Church can adopt tens of millions, foster hundreds of millions, canvass the world with the Good News of Jesus and absolutely end poverty, hunger and slavery at home and around the world. The Church has the manpower and the resources to change the world almost overnight. So what are we waiting for?
We must end the navel-gazing, the in-fighting and the finger-pointing. We must unite under the banner that we can agree on – the banner of Jesus – and march forward. We must stop constantly arguing the minutia of theology if it gets in the way of us obeying the very basics of our faith. We must do the stuff of God. And, as Valentine’s Day approaches, it seems appropriate to note that it all comes back to love. Of God. Of People. Jesus 101
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