Living the Weird Life
On the eve of the Weird Teaching series, it may be strange, but I am gleaning some great ancillary benefit not only from the book we're reading as a church, but also - and here's the strange part - a quote attributed to American business scholar W. Edwards Deming:
"Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets."
If you have a Twinkie machine, you should get that golden, creme-filled delicacy at the end, wrapped singly or doubly with Twinkie the Kid emblazoned on it. One should not get doggie treats.
Similarly, if the Disciple of Jesus wants to grow and take on the character and own the Mission of Jesus, their Master, they should be making decisions he would make, think thoughts he would think, do things that he would do. That is, actually, what he expects.
Ah, but therein, is the rub! Living like Jesus is hard! I appreciate Dr. Dallas Willard who described the "normal" pattern that disciples take:
"In fact, many Christians cannot even believe he actually intended for us to carry them out. So what is the result? His teachings are treated as a mere ideal, one that we may better ourselves by aiming for but know we are bound to fall glaringly short of." (The Spirit of the Disciplines, p. 2. HarperOne. Kindle Edition.
Willard goes on to describe "The Easy Yoke" to refresh our memories that Jesus would NEVER call us to do something impossible - nor would he leave us struggling like Sysiphus to figure things out for ourselves:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (my emphasis)
Question: Are you experiencing the easy yoke life? If you experiencing crushing debt, loneliness, exhaustion, and crisis of conscience, and thinking that just doing more religious gestures will solve your problems, you've missed the point.
Think back to Deming: "Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets."
Question: Has it occurred to you that your system needs changing?
Perhaps you need to jump feet-first into "Weird". Change the system, the patterns of your thinking, the habits you've formed, the value-sets that form your convictions. Let the series guide you to the "Easy Yoke" that Jesus calls you to.
How about some more Deming-isms?
"It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory." That's kind of blunt, isn't it? But he's right. Did you know that Kodak - for years the name in photography actually developed the digital camera before anyone else? But today, they are a shadow of their former selves. They refused to change. What do you need to change for the best? Speaking of "best" ...
"It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best." That's wisdom. Doing the same thing - even really well - but expecting different results gets you just more of the same. The principles found in Weird will change your life! What do you have to lose - except the "normal" that is causing so much pain?
"If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing." Most of us work harder on our vacations or meal plans than we do on our spiritual formation. "But discipleship should be organic - that's the 'spiritual' nature of things, right? That's nonsense. You can - and you should - be able to write out your plan of spiritual formation (eg: commitment to daily prayer, weekly worship, weekly spiritual examination conversations, etc.).
Nothing changes without personal transformation. That's just common sense. The good news, dear reader, is that our Lord never intended for you to have to go it alone. Jesus promised: "the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:26-27)
Have you made plans to participate in the Fall Spiritual Emphasis: Weird? I hope so. I trust that if you haven't, you've already determined that the plan you have is more than adequate - or superior - to the one you are living, now.
PS: Make sure you check out and listen to Rick's Living Your Dash Podcast!