Kiwis have this unnerving national characteristic called “la-z-boy expertise.” We’re experts on any and every sport and feel competent to comment on the exploits of practitioners of which ever sport we’re watching from the safety of our lounge or rumpus room. It has a more subtle form in those strange people who have all the gear but have never risked using it in pursuit of the actual game; e.g. surfboards. When I was surfing regularly there was a group of people who went around with surfboards on the roofs of their cars, and would even wax them on the beach, they wore the coolest board-shorts and t-shirts, listened to the right music, even went to the right beaches, but their boards and their perfect surf gear never got wet. One step braver were the guys that paddled out to behind the waves and just sat their, only to paddle their boards back in an hour later declaring the surf too small. And then there were the ripple riders – never really got out of their depth, and would rarely attack a wave that hadn’t broken already. These guys would never experience the exhilaration of pointing the nose of a board down the face of a wave and seeing where it took them. All those great resources, all that “knowledge”, and even being at the right place at the right time and it means absolutely nothing. Why?
This is so like the church. We know how to talk the talk, we know the right gear to wear, the right attitudes to put on, the right songs to sing, even the right places to be; we’re often very familiar with the most central and core tenets of what the church is about – but for many of us we might as well be surfing.
We know the stuff, but we never seem to do any of it. Oh I don’t mean obeying “the rules” about behaving well and putting on a good show. I mean the hard stuff like loving the unlovable, carrying the awesome potential of forgiveness in our hearts. I mean living by the more seemingly radical of Jesus’ teachings – healing the sick, feeding the poor, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, caring for the undeserving. I mean dying to our own preferences and agendas in favour of His. Plunging into the exhilarating waves of the Spirit and working with God rather than rudely ignoring Him.
Surf’s up people, are you ready to plunge in?