No, you won’t be reading a critique of this book by the pastor of a huge church, but Unconventional will touch on the concept. What is our best spiritual life? Is it now? Can we have it now? If so how do we grab it?
Two issues arise that keep us from the best. First, the good is the enemy of the best. Being content with a good situation can bring stagnation; we get comfortable and resist changing to gain what might be better. We’re glad to take just one bite of the enchilada. But let’s flip the coin, because the perfect is another enemy of the best. Sometimes, if we can’t get our ideal we don’t bother. If we can’t get the whole enchilada, we won’t even take a taste. Stagnancy wins again.
An article in last weekend’s Riverside Press Enterprise by Carl Cannon talked about incremental reporting with a look back at Watergate and the two key reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. An article that prompted some thoughts on following Jesus. Bernstein said he wanted to grab the whole enchilada, and said Woodward cautioned him, “Here’s what we know now and are ready to put in the paper.” Or, don’t rush the process. The Watergate investigation took months, each new fact revealed new questions that required answers, and Bernstein called it “incremental reporting.” You take what he called “the best obtainable version of the truth.”
Fortunately, the first bit of truth led to another, and another, and another. But the final result could not have been written after that first bit. Each partial step revealed more truth, step by step.
Following Jesus is like that. Several years ago a verse troubled me, and eventually gave a new slant on following. In the midst of encouraging the believers in Rome to honor Christ with their daily lives, Paul wrote “Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11). But aren’t we saved when we first believed? Absolutely, but salvation means more than merely being saved from sin and hell. The original word means wholeness. Or, we’re more whole than when we started to follow Jesus, but not wholly whole. Yet. But we will be, later. We should be consistently growing in wholeness.
Does that make sense? Think about our best life spiritually. Do we have it now? Not really. We operate with the “best obtainable version of the truth,” and we learn day by day. We have more of it today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow. Or next week. Or next year. Or anytime until Jesus returns and fully transforms us. So, let’s return to those two issues that keep us from the best life now. Satisfaction that keeps us stuck on good, or perfectionism that hinders us from incremental wholeness. Both work against growing, don’t they?
Kick Starting the Application
Do you struggle with either the good or the perfect being an enemy of your best life? What makes it an effective enemy? Do you have a good in your life that could be yielded to gain something better? What keeps you from courageously making that change? If you want the whole enchilada, has it kept you from growing incrementally? What could be your next small step in moving toward greater wholeness?