Living in Jesustown
Two nights ago my roommate, Anna, came into my bathroom while I was brushing my teeth and announced that she was taking a long break from Connect, our Thursday night young adults group. Standing there in my pajamas, I felt panicky and sad—we met at Connect, and it's always been a good time for us and our other close friends to be together. Plus, more church is always a good thing . . . and less church is always a bad thing. Right?
I asked why she was making that decision—except I still had my toothbrush in my mouth, so it was more like, "Eye are ooh baking dat debidon ?"
"Well," she began, "you know how every now and then, I rock climb on Thursday nights instead?"
"Yeth." I still had toothpaste in my mouth.
"It's just . . . been really good. I met a group of people who climb together. And I finally have one night a week where I spend time with nonChristians. I talk to them about my faith—and I have to know what I'm defending. So I've been reading my Bible more. I think I forgot how important it was not to be with Christians all the time. I mean, you and I lead Bible study together on Tuesdays, I go to church on Sundays, and lead junior high students on Sunday afternoons. I spend all my free time with our Christian friends. I just need one night where I'm not surrounded. One night where I'm challenged instead."
I was surprised. A little worried too. I've had friends decide to spend more time "in the world," and as a result they've ended up subtly slipping away from their faith altogether. But as her words sank in, it dawned on me that this could be a wise decision. As a matter of fact, it was convicting. What Anna said rang true for me too. I feel as though I've spent the last few years playing house with my faith. No danger. No effort. No real change.
Anna and I also have similarly church-filled schedules. On Sundays I'm at church all day. On Mondays I have movie night with my Christian friends. On Tuesdays my small group comes over to my place. On Wednesdays I'm discipled. On Thursdays I attend the young adults group. And every other Friday I co-lead worship for the over 40 singles ministry.
On top of all this, we live in the Jesus capital of suburbia, Illinois—a Christian college town. I drive behind minivans that have Jesus-fish glued to their behinds. The stores have cleverly disguised Bible references in their names, such as Icthus Photography. I'm sitting in a Starbucks right now, and I can hear three conversations taking place out different Christian organizations and churches. There are several men sporting the "seminary goatee" (am I the only one who has noticed that trend?) within eight feet of me and my latte.