Another Christian leader crashed and burned. I could hardly take it. A person smarter, more talented, and much better equipped than I was. But out of the race.
This particular leader was close to me and it hit especially hard. I sat around a table with a few friends and we asked each other some tough questions: What happened? Why didn’t we know? What could we have done? Of course, those aren’t the right questions exactly. Who can know the heart or mind of another person? Only God. But those questions led to some better ones. What about us? How are we? Really? Are we experiencing the daily guidance of Jesus? Are we practicing what we preach? Is my life truly integrated? Do I really follow Jesus every day (not the ‘I follow Jesus’ in general sort of idea but in my daily decisions?). These were good questions—actually, these are essential questions for followers of Jesus. Notice, I didn’t say believers of Jesus—and here’s why.
Somewhere (probably around modernity) we intellectualized our faith. Simply put, we made it a brain game. The smartest people won. The more we “knew” about the Bible or history or doctrines or even Jesus the more we thought we were good followers of God. Unfortunately, it seems the opposite thing happened. The more we “knew” about God it seemed the less we looked like Jesus.
This probably shouldn’t surprise us much because the people who were most opposed to Jesus while he lived on earth were a religious group called the Pharisees. The Pharisees were always reading and memorizing their religious texts and were obsessed with keeping the appearance of following God but Jesus said their hearts were far from Him. They could not recognize Jesus because they were “blinded by their knowledge.” What? Blinded by knowledge. I spent most of my life trying to distance myself from the Pharisees but suddenly had to come face to face with the reality that I was fast becoming one. I “knew” a lot about God and the Bible and the way I should act. I “knew” that I was a believer. But so what? Even the demons believe in Jesus. The original invitation of Jesus still beckons, “Come follow me.”
Far from an abstract set of beliefs, following Jesus is a journey. It involves movement, rhythms, and practice.
Now, back to the table.
The group gathered were all veterans of various ministries around the world. Discipleship training schools, church plants, inner-city outreaches, global non-profits, and justice advocacy were a taste of our experience. There was no doubt we “knew” a lot about Jesus. But the question none of us could shake was whether we were practicing what we knew. Were we following Jesus today?
If that is the central question of our faith (and I believe it is) then the next question is even more critical—how do we do it? And this is where it all gets really fun. Honestly. Practicing the way of Jesus is even better than only believing in Him. It’s where all the adventure is.
Jay Leno once said that he’d do anything for the perfect body except diet and exercise! Sometimes I think we mean something similar when it comes to our faith. We want to live in a way that brings light to the darkness and hope to a despairing world—but to do that will require us to work out our faith. We will have to practice.
This requires sustainable rhythms and community. Ever declare your intentions on New Year's day and fade out by the end of February? You are not alone. 92% of new years resolutions fail. Why? Nobody is paying attention to sustainability. Establishing solid and sustainable rhythms will help you go the distance.
This is why the people at that table and myself decided on that day to establish Infinitum. It’s a prayer-based practice and community with one vision—to help believers follow Jesus. It’s broken down into three foundational postures:
Surrender: letting God have control of me
Generosity: open-handed living in a closed fist culture
Mission: others-focused living
Through these foundational postures, we’ve watched lives transformed as people in over thirty countries have become intentional with their prayers and the daily practice of what they believe. God took our desire to walk out what we believed—and to help others do the same—and did something beautiful with it. That’s the endless journey of faith...
You might say to infinitum!
Danielle Strickland is currently based in Toronto, Canada. Her aggressive compassion has served people firsthand in countries all over the world. From establishing Justice Departments for The Salvation Army to launching Global anti-trafficking initiatives, to creating new movements to mobilize people towards transformational living. Danielle trains, advocates, and inspires people to live differently. Follow her on Instagram and her website.