The title of this post is taken from a sub-heading in Dan Kimball’s book “The Like Jesus But Not The Church – insights from emerging generations.” I read it several years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. His commitment to engaging people who don’ t know Jesus (as well as those that do) was challenging and made me evaluate my work-week to intentionally give myself opportunities to meet people who may or may not know Jesus; because if left to my own desires, I would easily become consumed with all of the responsibilities that my job entails and forget that I need to be engaging those that have yet to darken the door of our church (and may never do so). Here is Kimball’s breakdown of what happens to most people who become Christians:
- Phase 1: We become Christians (good thing)
- Phase 2: We become part of church life (good thing)
- Phase 3: We become part of the Christian bubble (not so good thing)
- Phase 4: We become Jonah (bad thing)
If you recall Jonah ran from God when He told him to go to Nineveh and even when God gave him a second chance to go tell the Ninevites to repent and cry out to God – and they did – Jonah became angry with God. How does that apply to you and me? Let me list a couple ways it might apply (several of which come directly from Kimball’s book):
- We get a bizarre sense of enjoyment sitting around with Christian friends talking about how lucky we are that we aren’t in the world anymore.
- We get into a retreat mentality in which we think of the church as a protection-from-the-world social club.
- We look disdainfully at individuals who do not know Jesus, forgetting that’s where we once were.
- We become consumed with a myriad of responsibilities in the church and though they might be honorable and worthy commitments, they fail to engage individuals that do not know Jesus – and truth-be-told, some of us are okay with that.
- We don’t experience a profound burden for the lostness around us like we first did when we became a Christian. And subsequently, we don’t pray for them.
Lastly, Kimball says something very profound and insightful to which I’ll quote in its entirety. He writes, “the sad fact is that if at phase 1 we could see ourselves in phase 4 as citizens of the bubble, we probably wouldn’t even recognize ourselves. I wonder – if our phase-1 selves could meet our phase-4 selves, would we run the other way? Hopefully, the Spirit of God has transformed us into living more Jesus-like lives since phase 1” (Kimball, pp. 46).