By Rajmund Dabrowski — Imagine Mona Lisa. Have you looked at her half-smile and imagined what she was thinking and what it was all about? Perhaps no extravagant imagination is needed when hearing John Lennon’s “Imagine.” And what were Joan Osborne’s One Of Us lyrics saying to you?
I will tell you that her song turned my imagination into an endless spin. If God was one of us, as she sang, and visited church on Sabbath, would He be surprised to discover how different we are on Sunday–Friday, or even just a day later? Yes, the Sabbath is the Sabbath. Christianity is not a one-day affair, He would remind us.
But there is more.
Imagine what your neighbors know about you. There was and there continues to be an issue with seeing God as someone who looks at us in a limiting way. And we think He thinks like we do. Right? Wrong.
Oh, how often I think like Nicodemus did. He could not grasp what it means to be born again. Many of us are grappling with a limited approach to what it means to be a child of God, trusting Him in . . . everything.
I was chatting with a fellow believer about letting Jesus lead us as if we were blindfolded. I said, “Pray that He takes you where He wants, even if that messes up your plans.” He responded, “What if He takes you where you do not want to be, or if your religious practice would make you uncomfortable?” I said, “So be it. He either leads or I lead. He told His disciples, ‘Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am’” (Matt. 16:24 MSG).
Imagine the consequences. There was a moment in my past when I needed a push, but then, I could not imagine where I would land after being pushed. After a midterm test, our theology professor called each of the students to review the results. Mine offered me a simple but poignant comment: “Ray, try harder,” he said. I did know what I needed to improve at that moment to stay on course. But I did not know that this simple admonition would lead me to life-changing results.
Many things have happened over the decades of going beyond many frontiers. One such moment arrived soon after I “tried harder.” It was a concert in London where I would not be squeezed on the floor with hundreds of fans. Being in a crowd made me feel insecure. I went to one of the boxes overlooking the stage and asked if I could hang out in a corner. I ended up being among the concert organizers “backstage” but without a VIP pass and . . . looking from above. I met a dozen people with “names.” This led me to practicing the art of communication beyond textbooks. A realm of imagination is required to express what one discovers, learns, and practices when the new and worthwhile lessons come from such an encounter.
I tried harder. I used my brains.
The same goes for spiritual life, a changed life, when you don’t take everything for granted, when you stop taking shortcuts or cutting the corners, when there are no excuses masquerading as forgiveness, when you are not telling the Lord to follow you rather than trusting his leadership in your life. All you are and how you are starts with changes and is fulfilled by Jesus.
The same goes for my faith community. God told us what to do and promised that He would equip us with skills and talents. He gave us brains. My professor was right. He did not make me guilty for not using my gift of learning (or studying diligently). He just told me to make use of it.
When our religious life becomes a routine of “doing” things, He patiently waits for us to make a change. That’s my dream for my church. As He says: “I am after love that lasts, not more religion. I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings” (Hosea 6:6 MSG).
–Rajmund Dabrowski is RMC communication director and editor of “Mountain Views.”. Email him at: [email protected]