Years ago when I was working on a terminal degree (they call it that because it nearly kills you) one of my most impressive and exasperating professors was a slightly graying woman about 5’ tall. Remember, this was in an era when it was not as common as today for a woman to have a “terminal degree” (in her case a PhD in Demographic Sociology).
She was tough. I mean her assignments were stroke-inducing. She was fond of saying something like, “Now here is a book that will help you understand more clearly what I am saying. Therefore I want you to read it before class tomorrow. And there’ll be a quiz.” You could hear the collective groan all across the room…from all 85 of us. It might be a 288 page book.
In her response to our response she would likely bow her neck, look out over her half-glasses, and say, “Now you listen to me: I got mine…you’ve got yours to get.” That threat would become something of a class mantra. Translation: If you’re going to get what I’ve got I’m going to make sure you work at it as hard as I did.
You may have observed that a similar attitude can sneak up on us in church as well, although the context is somewhat different. It’s not usually spoken by a teacher but rather by comfortable, under-motivated believers who take comfort in the belief that they themselves have found “the truth,” and hopefully their neighbors will find out about it somehow, too. See, “I got mine; you’ve got yours to get.”
Now nobody voices those words. That would be unspiritual. But the absence of passion is a dead giveaway. It’s born of a point of view that sees salvation as just a punishment to be escaped or a gift to be held tightly and savored solo. But God intended His gift to produce a contagious hallelujah!, that it would be a revelation so overwhelming it could not be contained…an insight so breathtaking His people would become radiantly infectious. When you’re in love, you can’t hide it.
So a baptized version of my prof’s motivational mandate might go something like this: “You may notice I got hold of something so life-changing I can hardly wait to share it with you! Could we do lunch one day this week so we can talk about it?”
By Don Jacobsen