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Jesus-Freak-Induced Panic Attacks

June 20, 2012

I came of age in my faith in the late 90s and early 2000’s, which means that my highest aim was to be a “Jesus Freak.” I devoured the books by the same title – stories of the hardest of the hardcore, the martyrs and the persecuted Christians all around the world. They gave up everything to follow Jesus, even their lives. They were on a higher plane than the rest of us “normal” Christians, and I wanted to stand up there with them.

So the goal became: “Be more spiritual.” I read my Bible for 2 hours or more every day. I prayed often and fervently. I memorized huge passages of the Bible. I shared my faith and spoke to groups and went on mission trips. I taught Sunday School and started a blog and mentored teenagers.

I stand on the edge of doing something I am sure that He has asked of me, full of fear and trying not to panic.

And everyone is ooohing and ahhhing, saying, “I could never do that! What faith you have!”

We tend to view Christians on various levels of spirituality: on top is usually the missionary, abandoning culture and comfort to give their lives to those who haven’t heard the Gospel. Next are pastors, who are the “spiritual leadership” of the church. It’s an unspoken rule that they must be the most spiritual person in the congregation, be without sin, and take a vow of poverty for good measure. Perhaps next are deacons, Bible study leaders, camp directors, and evangelistic speakers.

Then there’s the rest of us. We are on the lower plane, the less spiritual of us. The non-leaders, receiving and “being fed” by the more spiritual. We are sure that God has not called us to something great, because we know our faith is small and we just can’t do that. We can’t give up air conditioning or a steady paycheck, our five-year-plans or the town we’ve lived in our whole lives. We want to do great things for God, but we’re certain that it will give us a panic attack. So we leave the hard things to those on the higher plane. They can handle it, right?

The planes don’t exist.

We are – all of us – His children. And the goal is not to read more Bible or know it in Greek and Hebrew, or to pray more often and have those prayers answered, or to teach or evangelize more than anyone else so that we can be leaders and climb up the spiritual ladder.

We are pushing deeper into Him. We are, at every step, receiving the grace for the next step and no further. We are not as spiritual as we think we are, for we are all dependent upon Him for our growth and our being.

And when we focus on being in Christ, rather than on doing for Christ, we may find ourselves in any number of places. In the jungle. In the pulpit. At the daycare. Homeschooling our children. Checking groceries. In a cubicle.¬†The legitimate¬†fears of what’s going to happen, how is the money going to be there, will my children be safe, what will my family think – these fears are met with the simple truth that I am in Christ, and I must lean deeper into Him.

Abandon your ideas of the spiritual ladder. Let go of your worry over not being spiritual enough, not leading enough, not doing enough. The tasks and good works don’t make us mature, or more loved, or better people. He does.¬†Lean into Him, allow yourself to be His child, allow yourself to be loved. Then look around and do the first thing He’s asked you to do – with His presence and in His power. Then ask for grace for the next thing. Then the next. Breathe in. Breathe out. Don’t panic.

 

Does the whole “do great things for God” mentality send you into a panic attack sometimes?

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 21, 2012 9:28 am

    I don’t panic over this anymore, but I do get extremely annoyed with those who to push this point of view. Christians seem to easily get caught up in the idea that they must always be DOING something, when we are never called to anything but BEING in Christ. Sadly, the message they spread is that we are saved by grace, BUT… No. We are saved by grace, PERIOD! The doing is the fruit of the Spirit, which comes from God, not of ourselves. When I gave up doing stuff for God (and trying to impress other doers) and focused just on knowing Him better, my relationship with Him blossomed into something that the doers don’t quite get. And the doers ask, “How do you DO that??” You don’t. You just be God’s child. Dwell with Him and receive the rest He has for you. That’s it.

  2. Leslie Dixon permalink
    June 21, 2012 9:39 am

    Great post!!

  3. Tim permalink
    June 21, 2012 11:45 am

    Aubry, loved this insight: The planes don’t exist. Yes yes yes! Have you ever read William Tyndale’s quote on the subject? He really nails it too:

    “There is no work better than to please God; to pour water, to wash dishes, to be a cobbler, or an apostle, all are one; to wash dishes and to preach are all one, as touching the deed, to please God.”

    Your apt focus on being in Christ rather than doing for Christ reminds me of something I heard Darrell Johnson say once about how God is in us so there is no reason to pray to grow closer to God because you don’t get any closer than in. (Andrew farley expanded on this in his book The Naked Gospel, which is by far the most important book I read in 2011.)

    Cheers,
    Tim

    P.S.

    • Tim permalink
      June 21, 2012 11:48 am

      Oops, left that P.S. hanging. Anyway, as soon as I read your title I thought of DC Talk’s Jesus Freak: “What will people think when they hear that I’m a Jesus freak, what will people do when they find out it’s true?”

  4. Sarah permalink
    June 23, 2012 7:37 am

    Long-time reader, first-time commenter here…hi! I also came of age in the Jesus Freak era (pretty sure I scribbled that exact phrase on my pencil cases in school) and not only panicked over such high callings, I nearly lost my faith because of it. I got to a point where I said, “God, this is too hard, this yoke is NOT light, I can’t do this – I’m leaving!” Thankfully God does not give up on us – He drew me right back before I got too far!

    But I am still trying to learn what you write here – to lean on Christ, to enter into a deeper fellowship with Him first, and to trust Him to do all the heavy-lifting. I have a feeling this will be a life-long process and I won’t get it perfectly right, but I think that’s ok.

    • aubrygrace permalink*
      June 23, 2012 9:37 pm

      Sarah, Hi! I love it when readers “out” themselves – good to connect with you! Amen that He doesn’t give up on us. :)

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