And there’s the rub. I would argue first of all that community, though important, is not the most important thing we are involved with as Christians. As Christians, we deal in the truth first and foremost. That’s not to say we don’t have our opinions, and that it’s not right for us to express them. But when we gather together as Christians, we must both implicitly and explicitly acknowledge that what we’re after is not what we think, but what is true.
The reason the vast majority of cures and solutions for burnout don’t work is that they merely focus on various techniques to manage stress or reduce anxiety. Some of these practical remedies can be helpful, but they don’t address the heart of the issue. They may put out the fire around the edges, but, because they don’t extinguish the central blaze, the fire within keeps erupting and charred remains keep piling up.
To practice followship of Jesus is to believe the descriptions. It is to believe that around the corner where we cannot yet go is the most wonderful thing we could ever imagine—in fact, it is beyond imagination, beyond what we can conceive of. Even the descriptions cannot do this revelation justice. We hear the rumors of this place, read the travelogues of those precious few who trembled as though dead having spent mere seconds in that sacred space, and though we do not see it, we believe.
This is an age of consumption, an age of abundance, an age of excess. At least for those of us in the developed world, it is a time of all-you-can-eat buffets, of room-sized walk-in closets, of unlimited bandwidth and endless binge-watching. Our homes are so loaded with stuff that we’ve made self-storage units a thriving and growing multi-billion dollar industry. We’re overflowing and overwhelmed and unhappy.
If we stop recognizing them, it’s because something has distorted our view. I’m not saying that atheists are intellectually dishonest. Most of them sincerely believe in atheism. But atheism isn’t a default position. Theism is. Atheism arises when people turn their backs on what are rather obvious indications that there is a God behind creation.
These aren’t “proofs” for God’s existence. But they are, to borrow Francis Shaeffer’s phrase, strong hints that God really is there—and that he is not silent.
Apart from Watterson’s legendary comic strip, many books and stories have taken on summer from a kid’s slanted view. It’s hard to ignore the influence of Mark Twain’s pair of boy novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and my favorite remains Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine. That preference notwithstanding, sometimes a movie captures perfectly the essence of a story perfectly, all its promise, at the same time creating something vitally new. I’m not sure any better example of this exists than Rob Reiner’s Stand by Me (1986). The film does in images what Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine does, offering the joy and glory of summer “caught and stoppered.” And I argue it goes further, taking viewers along on a quest that encapsulates coming of age; deep, transforming friendship; and the possibilities of a “summertime kind of life.”
A favorite from the archives:
As we drove to church yesterday, Emily and I were talking about the latest royal visit to Canada. It was a fairly typical conversation for us. Discussion about Canadians’ general lack of understanding about how our government works. A few toe dips into some soft anti-monarchism. We didn’t think about the kids listening in.
And then, my daughter piped up:
“God is the Prime Minister of our lives, and the Lord and King of the universe.”