Before I saw the light… er… switched to Mac, I used to build my own computers. Yep, I loved to pick all the right components and put together a rig that was raw power. One that could edit videos without a hiccup or play any game I could throw at it. Sure it was time consuming and frustrating at times but the satisfaction of putting together a real hot rod of a machine was worth it.
Consequently, when you’re the guy in the family with the nerd skills, your phone often rings with questions from family members about which computer to buy. Usually my computer shopping relative would already have a machine in mind that was a ripper, a real Cadillac of a PC and they just wanted to know what I thought about it. 100% of the time I would ask the question, “What are you going to do with it?” and, most of the time, the answer would be, “You know, play Solitaire, check my email.”
That would be where I had to fight back that queasy feeling in my stomach. You know, that feeling that makes me want to yell, “Are you kidding me?! You want to fork over a thousand bucks so you can play Solitaire? Why don’t you just buy a deck of cards?! Don’t you know all the cool things you can do with that computer? What a waste!”
PCs aren’t the only thing suffering from the syndrome of massively unused potential. One trip to the iPhone app store and you’ll find that the top selling apps are simple games like Tetris and Angry Birds. You can run a business, edit video, and explore earth from satellites in space on the iPhone but people prefer to play “Plants Vs. Zombies”.
It makes me wonder if this phenomena isn’t spilling into our faith. The life Jesus says he came to give us (John 10:10) is life, abundantly, to the fullness, rich and satisfying! So why does “abundant life” seem to be the exception rather than the rule? Why do so many believers I know still struggle with the same baggage they did before they were saved? Why is Christianity for so many just a list of things they shouldn’t do and a series of weekly meetings they must attend? It’s no wonder countless Christians eventually give up, coast, or drop out. What’s the deal? If God is making this awesome life available to us, then why are so many satisfied with just playing Solitaire?
I have a couple ideas about this. In Philippians 3:8 Paul calls knowing Christ his “infinite value”. Some translations read “surpassing greatness”, “best thing of all”, and my favorite “nothing is as wonderful“! Allow me to give you the Lee Bezotte translation to this, “Abundant life comes from knowing Christ.” But wait, there’s more! “knowing Christ comes through prayer.” There, I said it and now I feel better! Christianity without prayer is like playing Solitaire on a 12-Core Power Mac. You’re wasting all the good stuff!
It’s prayer that brings us into relationship with Jesus! It’s not a homework assignment or another thing to check off our discipline list. It’s an invitation to connect with our creator! Who wouldn’t want that?!
OK, I’m about to wrap up but I just want to add one more thing. Many times, when my relative’s computer would arrive, I’d go over to their house and help them get all set up. When I did, I’d take a few minutes to show them all the cool things their new computer would do. Their eyes would get bigger and I could see the light bulbs going on over their heads. They never knew! But when I showed them, it got them excited about using their new computer to it’s full potential. I think most believers never get to that “life abundantly” because no one ever shows them it can be so incredible. If we’re going to have praying churches, then we have to have praying pastors. If believers are to know what a “rich and satisfying life” looks like, it needs to be modeled for them.
So where are you? Have you discovered the “best thing of all”? or are you just playing Solitaire?