So I bought Louis CK’s Live at the Beacon for $5 on his website.
I love standup comedy. I learn a lot about preaching and story telling from watching standup comedians. Some people complain that sermons are too long and boring, but those very same people probably would watch an hour of a good standup comedy routine. I love how comedians engage their audience with their words and stories and how the comedian has the entire audience accompany him/her to go on this journey of words and story telling.
I remember when I finally accepted my call into ministry and realized I’d have to preach regularly, I went out and rented all of my favorite standup comedians like Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres, Robin Williams, Dave Chappelle, George Carlin, Mitch Hedberg… any many more to study them, to see their interaction with the crowd and other stuff.
Sermons never have to be dry and boring, after all, sermons are also just story telling, but we are telling the greatest story ever…
But that’s not the point of this post. I really liked the show and really like Louis CK.
At one point of his routine, he talks about how he has a lot of beliefs but lives by none of them. He just likes having them and making himself feel good about having them, just as long as they don’t get in the way of his life or interfere with what he wants to do.
That brought me back to my first official appointment as a UMC pastor. I gave my first “adult” sermon (meaning, it was preached to adults) and it was nothing dramatic or drastic or challenging. The basis of the message was, instead of having Jesus follow our beliefs and lifestyle, we should change our lives so that we are following Jesus.
Then the service ended and I was standing in the meet’n’greet line and watch Pastor Joe awkwardly say hello to everyone, when a man came up to me (and I never saw him after that Sunday) and said, “That was a great message! Lots of good things there! But, you know, there’s no way I’m living my life like that! But thanks for sharing.”
I’m sure I looked confused, because I didn’t know how to react. Uhh.. thanks…? I thought about that comment that entire day, and 3 years later, I’m still thinking about that comment. “There’s no way I’m living my life like that…”
A lot more people than we think believe in God. Or a god. A higher deity that may or may not be YHWH.
But believing in God is the easiest of steps to take in the long journey of faith.
Okay, well, maybe not the easiest… but belief allows room for no action. It allows room for freedom. Not the freedom God gives, but the freedom in the line of what Louis CK said, I’ll believe as long as it doesn’t get in the way of what I want to do.
Believing in God and following Christ (or being a Christian) to me are different things. Belief is the first step, and not the only step in being a Christian.
Our words can dictate our belief in God, but our actions can deny God’s existence.
Being a Christian isn’t just about believing in God, but it also involves living a God-honoring life.
Being a Christian isn’t all about how many Bible verses we have memorized and the knowledge we accumulated from Bible studies and sermons. It’s also about living out those Holy Words that we study and memorize.
Being a Christian isn’t just about believing in Jesus.
It’s also about doing our best to emulate and embody the very things Jesus lived and died (and was resurrected) for.