Log in Newsletter

Get Out of The Shallow End

Is there more? It seems to me that this is the question lots of us are asking regardless of whether we’re spiritual or not, churchgoers or church haters, young, old, Republican, Democrat, dark beer or light beer, BCS or playoffs. Is there more to this life than the same old same old? We have so much wealth and privilege, but we’re still left asking the same question. We want a magic wardrobe to walk through, a phone booth to take us back in time or an eclipse to release our repressed superpowers. We want another world, another life, and we want it to be closer than we could have ever imagined.

What is it that leaves us longing for something greater and more significant? I believe that God built this yearning into us so that we would search out and explore how deep and significant he is. It is a primal craving for our creator who placed a piece of himself into us.

I think the Christian church has failed in recent centuries to celebrate this part of God and has left us unsatisfied with a narrow and shallow view. Sometimes we’ve gotten so wrapped up in correct doctrine and belief that we’ve become sterile and irrelevant to this world. I am a strong proponent of correct belief and doctrine, but the Bible wasn’t given to us to figure out how God works, as if performing an autopsy on a corpse. The Bible was given to us that we may be brought into a relationship with a living God, a relationship that often comes with greatness and mystery.

In some places, the church has made God into a cosmic vending machine, here only to pour blessings upon us, if we do the right things. It’s as if living a moral life or reading our Bible entitles us to press an ethereal button and bang! out pops a bag of blessings. This message is oftentimes taught through big smiley straight teeth with a thick Texas accent to TVs all over the world. Is that it? Is that all God is? Behave, believe, and I will bless? That sounds empty to me and doesn’t help me deal with a lot of the hurt and evil I experience every day.

I feel like many Christians live their lives in the shallow end of the pool. Christianity has become a culture instead of an intriguing and challenging dialogue with a complicated and captivating God. Many have stopped thinking or asking questions as if it somehow offends God rather than pleases him that we are searching. Others have sat in the same spot on the same worn-out pew in the same worn-out service for so long that life as a Christian is just habit and routine rather than passion and pursuit.

I think that we’re called as Christians to leave the shallow end and plunge the depths of our God. It’s time to raise expectations – what does this divine relationship mean? What does it look like to live together as a community who knows Him? Yes, there is more to this life. We can experience God in authentic community, hear him speak ancient truth through the timeless wisdom of his Bible and be amazed at its continued relevance, tangibly interact with him through ancient acts of communion and baptism, see him transform our hearts and lives and use us to transform the world around us.

If you’re a Christian and frustrated, hoping there is more – be encouraged because there is. Perhaps you aren’t a Christian but still search for that new reality. If you long ago dismissed the church as the place to find it, I hope you’ll reconsider and find a place that brings the riches of the mysteries of God crashing into your everyday life. My only hope for this article is that you’ll think about it. That’s it. I will be glad to help if I can, just drop me a line. Here’s to something deeper.

The Rev. Dan Alger is pastor of The Church of the Apostles. He can be reached at ecs@tcota.org.