Jesus is.. Lost In Translation

Daily I’m convinced that Jesus is lost in translation. And if he was lost in translation to me, I’m thinking he has been lost in translation to plenty of others. Below are a few of the comments that have been directed at me:

  • So, practising Christianity is something ‘you do’?
  • But you haven’t changed!
  • Yet you’ve got your s*&t shorted!Unknown
  • Why do you need the crutch of God & Jesus?

So what has been lost in translation?

The misunderstanding that practising Christianity is something ‘you do’

As a friend asked recently, “so, does this take up a lot of your time?” Umm…G&J take up virtually all my time. I never imagined I’d forgo downloading the latest chiller-thriller on my Kindle for J.I Packer’s ‘Knowing God’, but there you have it. This isn’t, personally, something I can switch on and off after church each Sunday. G&J rappelled into my heart and now urge me to get to know them better. Not from some intellectual theological perspective (too much of that has led to the loss in translation, I suspect) but because I WANT to. I want to know them, not have knowledge of them, because the knowing delivers joy.

Unlike other transient happinesses in my life, this joy just hangs on in there. It isn’t intellectual, it just is. Like riding a bicycle or learning to float/swim, it can’t be broken down into distinct parts and explained so someone else can do it. It’s within. From when I open my eyes each morning to their close at night (and quite often overnight when God pays one of his 3am visits and shoves me awake with blog post suggestions).

“But you haven’t changed!” 

As if my new relationship with G&J would change my martini-enjoying, dance-loving, often sweary, robustly honest approach to life. But there was the misunderstanding that I would turn into the fun police. Put a fish sticker on my car. Stop buying devastatingly gorgeous faux snakeskin boots (as if sanctification would ever stop me buying devastatingly gorgeous shoes).

Sadly, Jesus is lost in translation because of what is ‘expected’ of Christians. The ‘do-gooder’ stereotype. Shiny language. I know I’ve changed, but it probably isn’t in the way people expect. Internally I feel more accountable for thoughts, words and deeds. I am no ‘holier than thou-est’, but, God, He makes me think. Again, not because I have to – grace is freely given, there’s nothing I can do to earn it – but because I choose to. G&J make it easier to love another as myself. The Holy Spirit at work? Absolutely. Left to mine own devices, I’d be as short-patienced as ever.

“But you’ve got your sh*t sorted!” 

I didn’t have -isms and -tions (alcoholism, addiction etc) that secular people expect of ‘born-again’ Christians who “have been saved”. For many observing me, I had my sh*t pretty well sorted.

But there’s all sorts of saving. After a poignant poetry/drama about an incredibly busy career woman who finally found ‘quiet space’ in the understanding of Jesus and grace, the SAP commented to me in his tactful, diplomatic way,”hey, that reminded me of you, Phil!”

I recall feeling affronted. “Steady on, I wasn’t that bad,” I responded, thinking of the character’s incessant hamster-wheel of internal chatter. But, with quiet, humble reflection, I had to acknowledge the smart-alec had a point. I hadn’t filled up my life with drinking or shopping or career addictions. My mind wasn’t busy at that low-level. Oh no, it wasn’t filled with chatter. Or gratuitous ‘stuff’. It was filled with being too damn capable. Always the grown-up.  Responsible. I could overlay it with wit and humour, but push came to shove and I’d always, always, pick up the responsibility rod.

In an odd way, G&J have reminded me to be a kid again. To put down unecessary responsibilities. Or, better, hand them over to them. They deliver plenty of ‘in the moment’ joys that children embrace so well but we adults often forget. There is a huge amount of humour in their relationship with me.  At the risk at turning into my psych nemesis, there is a new freedom in being ‘childlike’ that I didn’t get to enjoy when I was a child due to family circumstances.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. – 1 John 3:1 (ESV)

Why do you ‘need’ the ‘crutch’ of God & Jesus?

To term them a crutch insults my faith in them. G&J flank me. Some days they carry me, others they may drag me, but each day they walk steadily next to me. It is my error if I neglect to turn my head and acknowledge their presence. When I do, I walk taller, become lighter and unencumbered.

Crutch? No. Rather armour, wings, shelter – all of those and more. What is lost in translation is that G&J are not some insipid, wafting notions of love, all caftans and peace signs. There is valour and strength that is too often unnoticed:

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Acts 17:11

That’s not a crutch. That’s Russel Crow winning an Oscar in Gladiator. Or Jack Reacher (in 6′ 5″ literary form, not Tom Cruise). That’s stand up and be counted.

What would you do if you were truly fearless?

imagesI’ve never been much of a goal setter. I am incredibly thankful for the personal or business achievements in my life to date, but it kind of all happened ‘by accident.’ I was too young to know better (hello, 25 years old, and my first client was a multinational offering a monthly budget that I had earnt as a journalist in six). I somehow then accrued the business skills to sail through the subsequent years, build up a good sized PR agency, generate profits and employ people.

Then, after my spiritual Christian explosion last year (the whole hound of heaven, G,J and the Holy Ghostwriter, getting dunked experience), everything came into sharp focus.

This is not about me. Yet I have a part to play. It’s a decidedly liberating feeling to humbly acknowledge God and Jesus have the reigns, while honouring the words: Ask and you shall receive. 

What would you do if you were fearless?

No-one is fearless. Our fears are vines that twist around our legs as we attempt to step forward. They are the whispering voices in our heads that undermine our hopes and dreams. Yet think for a moment. Do you fear the ‘thing’ you are scared over? Or is it actually the feeling of fear that has power? Example: I never set goals in my first business for over a decade because, well, what if I didn’t achieve them? What would that failure say about me? I did OK without them, after all.

Setting goals isn’t scary. It was my fear around having those goals on show for all to see and not reaching them that paralysed me. Cleverly helped by my excuse that I did OK without them anyway (ahem, my dear Psych Nemesis would probably call that denial).

Yet, it is a waste of God-gifted talents not to set big, hairy audacious goals and dare greatly to achieve them. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10.

So I am currently referring to G,J & HS as the divine business management team (DBMT) because without my faith in them I’d not be dreaming so big, and daring as greatly as I am this year and beyond.

I have goals. Big ones. They are daunting and – because God has a sense of humour wiring my brain for warp speed – on a rigorous five-year schedule. I have a business coach to keep me accountable. It is out for all to see. I am the business chick stripped bare.

Yet, stripped down, I feel unencumbered. Able to fly. Paradoxically, given I have more on my ‘to do’ list than ever before in 15+ years of business ownership. I have a lightness that comes from faith that my true CEO has it under control: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us – Ephesians 3:20.

I’m certainly not fearless. Far from it. In fact, before I paid the deposit on my business coaching I was almost paralysed with the uncertainty. So I called a quick board meeting (prayed). “You think you’re in fear,” Jesus said. “Try being me in the Garden of Gethsemane that night.”

Nothing like a dose of perspective. It shoved down the jitters sufficiently for me to step out of my comfort zone and look at the next vista.  Which is the true comfort of faith. With it, I can dare greatly. As the song goesI am brave when I am on your shoulders. You raise me up to more than I can be.