Monday, February 09, 2009

The Benjamin Button Syndrome

Have you seen the movie? It's about man who is born old and grows younger as he ages. It is an interesting concept and a very intriguing movie.
I recently heard a definition given for Christian discipleship as "growing in love for God and love for people." I like this definition because it truly encapsulates the direction we are all meant to progress as we mature as Christians. Our focus is then centered on the greatest commandment and the golden rule. As we lead others, it is our hope to see these outcomes in their lives as well. We are truly meant to progressively grow in our love for God and for our fellow humans.
Unfortunately, many Christians are plagued by the "Benjamin Button Syndrome". They begin their spiritual life madly in love with God and unabashedly determined to share His love with others. This "first love" experience becomes the high point in their spiritual journey. They then begin a slow regression towards apathy and complacency. Their love for God and for people slowly declines. Instead of moving towards maturity, they become increasingly immature.
We become more restrained and take fewer risks. Church and devotions become a chore. We grow cynical in our view towards the poor and the needy. We stop sharing the "good news" the further we move from that life-changing moment in their lives. We stop reading the Bible and memorizing Scripture. Our communication with God becomes limited to ritual. Our love grows cold.
This is not an uncommon syndrome. It must be addressed and corrected. How can we disciple others if we are headed the wrong direction ourselves? This problem was apparent in the church in Ephesus. Jesus had strong words for the people there:
"You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place." Revelation 2:4-5
It's time for the church to turn things around. This means it's time for us to turn things around. I challenge you as I challenge myself to make whatever correction is necessary so that you avoid the heartache and the pain that comes when one is afflicted with this sydrome which is supposed to be confined to myth.

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