Recently, a friend admitted to me they were second guessing Jesus—that he didn’t seem real to him anymore. I could see the frustration in his eyes that something he had always known and grew up on was losing its value. His solution, he told me, was digging into books on theology and apologetics (he’d already read ten of them this month), trying to rediscover the validity of Jesus. His battle field of a heart lay messy on the table in a quaint coffee house when he ended his rant and asked for help. I told him to stop looking…
You won’t find Jesus in a book.
You see, my friend, just like me, grew up on factual Christianity. Being a Christian in this system meant memorizing scripture verses, remembering details to miraculous stories, and knowing the “B-I-B-L-E yes that’s the book for me” songs. If you could do it fluently, you were a “good” Christian.
Factual Christianity is based in books but lacks the applicational and experiential side of faith. What it breeds is a porcelain faith that can look good but is shattered when it stumbles upon temptations like sex, drugs, and alcohol or into mental battles like self-image, pride, and envy.
The immediate issue is that these situations create an experience that a factual faith has no answers to because there has been no connection with Jesus, only ties to a systematic routine.
If you haven’t experienced Jesus, there are a lot of world experiences that will win the attention of your heart.
A faith rooted in factual knowledge falls short of stellar like the recipe to a batch of cookies. You can stare at the directions for as long as you want, but you’ll never experience the goodness without working for it.
And that’s where many of our Millennial faiths falter, just like my friend unraveled at the coffee shop—it didn’t make sense anymore to believe in something that was only recipe and no experience.
Facts will never beat experience. If we allow ourselves to live only by word and never by deed, there is no doubt faith will get boring. Experiencing faith isn’t easy to figure out either though, and that’s why so many of us get frustrated and hindered and confused when it comes down to wanting to feel something.
There’s no magical formula of prayer, Bible, and church, there isn’t a certain amount of mission trips you need to go on or service hours you need to complete, experiencing Jesus is unique to every person.
This is going to sound heretical, but if you don’t experience Jesus when reading your Bible, then stop reading it. And if you don’t experience him in church, stop going or find a new one.
Humans are systematic beings. We are so habitual that we subliminally can do tasks without thinking about them. We can unknowingly do the same to our faith.
The best way to break the system—stop doing what is habitual and try something new that takes the full attention of your mind, heart, and soul. This way, you fully experience what it is the Lord has to offer because you have to focus on what you’re doing. This is why children and so wowed by life and adults feel it’s boring—little kids are experiencing something new every day and find joy in it.
Experiencing Jesus isn’t a 3×5 notecard, grandma-scribbled recipe. It’s the process of throwing in a little extra cinnamon, tossing flour and digging your hands into the dough while stealing a few bites before you make the cookies.
Maybe you actually need to read your Bible or pray for once. Maybe you need to slow down life and listen or go evangelize on a street corner. Whatever it is, break up the system, find the little things, do the hard things, get uncomfortable, I’ll guarantee you’ll experience Jesus in a new way.