I get a lot of calls when I’m at our church’s office, and since we don’t have a secretary I answer most of them. I’ve found that if the number isn’t local, 70% of the time its someone trying to sell me something. Now, if you’ve ever talked with me on the phone you know I’m not blessed with telephone skills. I talk on the phone like the typical man shops–get in, get what you need, and get out. I tend to come across as rude or short, often ending the conversation before the other person is ready to hang up (personal note: if you think I’m rude or mean to you on the phone, I apologize, it’s not intentional).
With telemarketers, I excel in my short, blunt conversations and selfishly (confession time) enjoy getting off the phone in dramatic fashion. But it’s harder when I’m at our church office, because most of the people trying to sell me something are brothers or sisters in Christ who represent Christian organizations. I try to be as kind as I would be to my own family as I inevitably listen to them pitch me a new system that will make me a transformational leader or make our church explode numerically. What amazes me is that everyone has a different system. Everyone has an obstacle that their video material can overcome, a novel approach from–insert ‘name drop’–that will change your life and your church. A ten step program that will strengthen marriages, get everyone out of debt, increase biblical literacy, instill spiritual disciplines, change dirty diapers in the nursery, cut your grass, wash your windows, and remove pesky bunions.
I’m obviously being a bit sarcastic, but I’m trying to illustrate a point. There is no simple system to Christianity. The best I could do is boil it down and say, “Read the Bible and embrace what it says.” But that’s not exactly a system, it is a lifelong pursuit of knowledge, love, obedience, and joy that has as many distinctions as do people on the earth. When we struggle with changing, moving forward, overcoming sin, being a leader, or spiritual growth what we need is not a system but a God. A book or a speaker is only good if they take us deeper into the mysteries of Christ. Any real progress in Christianity is brought about through the work of the Spirit. And the Spirit works through the Word of God to magnify the glory and beauty Christ in the hearts of both believer and unbeliever. The reality is there are no short cuts, no simple systems to revolutionize your life. You don’t need a system, you need a God.
Thankfully, Jesus knows that.