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Keith Wishum: Way over there

A new organization was forming. Some teens at church wanted to start a new club to promote their philosophy of life. It was to be called FLAB – Fellowship of Lazy American Bums. They even had a motto to reflect their philosophy: “That’s way over there!” Whenever they are asked to do something, that’s their reply, “But that’s way over there!”
Fortunately, the kids were joking. (I think.) And the group never got started because holding a meeting is “way over there.” The FLAB philosophy may, however, infect American religion.
Parents who want their children to grow up with traditional Christian values find it too hard to get the family up in time to go to Sunday school. Never mind that the same family is up hours earlier during the week to get ready for work and school.
Some express a desire to be strong spiritually, but lack the energy for spiritual exercise at the end of a hard day. Prayer and meditation are admirable activities, but they are “way over there.”
Many say they would like to understand the Bible better. But it often comes out that they aren’t actually reading it. It’s such a long book, and all those big words! It’s just “way over there.”
We may talk about how much we support the good that churches and charitable organizations do. But do we actually give money to support them? Or is that “way over there?”
The great problem with the FLAB approach to religion is that it runs counter to the teaching of Jesus Christ. “Blessed are those,” he insisted, “who are persecuted for righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). He went on to say that it is blessed to be insulted and falsely accused because one follows him. Hardly the convenient, easy approach to life is it?
The way of Jesus leads to a cross. His is a way of self-sacrifice, self-denial, inconvenience, and discomfort. As his followers, we have no reason to expect the way to be any easier for us than it was for him.
But we can expect his way to lead to heaven and to a better life even now! Joy is not found in the easy way. It comes from doing right, regardless the cost. It worked for Jesus. It will for us. It may be “way over there,” but it is well worth the trip.

Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of Christ, Americus.