A few weeks ago we were with a group of full-time students in a monastery in Belgium. Spend a few days moving along in the rhythm of the monks who live there, seeking silence and being confronted with yourself in encounters with Jesus. As if that wasn’t enough, the students also had to hand in their smartphones at the beginning of the week. For many students, that felt like an amputation. The day consisted of being with God, attending masses and meals. During one of those meals, a student sits next to me. He sighs and says, Martin, I have a problem. I invite him to tell me what is going on. He says…I actually want to go home, because I don’t like it here anymore. My answer blurts out before I know it…, but dear boy, who told you this would be fun? The conversation has been keeping me busy for a while. Apparently we have developed a paradigm together, whereby we think that everything that has to do with faith should be fun. I go to many different churches and attend many services. From what I often see, I actually understand where that way of thinking comes from. A worship service should be fun. Nice music, nice sermon, nice drama, nice decor, nice lighting, nice stage decoration. The impression is given that following Jesus is always fun. Are we raising a new generation with that? Not entirely, because that attitude appears to be timeless. John 6 talks about the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. An amazing miracle and a miracle in which everyone is involved, because they all get to eat. That tastes like more…free foodand be entertained by a miracle! How nice is that!? Now that Jesus is moving on again, the people who experienced that miracle are eager to follow Him (verse 24). A conversation then ensues, in which Jesus challenges the group of people to believe in God. Their answer is remarkable and I say it in my own words and deliberately exaggerated.How can you entertain us? What can you do? If You show that, then we will believe in God! Jesus now does not respond to this request for a miracle and instead speaks fierce words about what it means to receive eternal life and what the conditions are for following Him. It turns out that people find this very annoying to hear.“These are harsh words, who can listen to them?” and later in the passage, by far the most people draw their conclusion;‘A lot of people moved thenpupils withdrew and went no further with him.’ This is no fun anymore… The student obviously stayed in that monastery. He now indicates that it has yielded him a lot, that roots have grown a little deeper. It was sometimes a bitter pill for him and for many other students and often not fun, but hardly any of the students would have wanted to miss it. Maybe it’s completely misplaced, but I’m quite scared and concerned about the spiritual climate in churches. We reproduceconsumers who drop out for the slightest thing because it is no longer funordisciples who have learned to follow Jesus at all costs. If my fear is true, then the church hardly has any roots. If those roots are not there, then we will not stand in the storm. The question is whether we are willing to go deeper and I ask myself that question too. This means that it is often not fun, but abrasive, confrontational and difficult. Are we prepared to ask each other annoying questions and hold up a mirror to each other? Jesus is clearly someone who does thatnotwilling cannot be my disciple. If I’m completely honest, I have to admit that sometimes I almost don’t like it anymore…

About Martin Dol

Getrouwd met Annemarije en vader van 3. Hoofd Onderwijs binnen Royal Mission en gek van geo-cachen.

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