Getting real — four pegs to hang your life on

Our lives are a complex mass of thoughts, emotions, relationships, and activities. And there is no time of the year that is free from experiencing personal traffic jams.

With four kids in four different schools and all their sports practices and music lessons and homework, this complex ball of life has the potential to roll out of control.

Because of the craziness of modern life, I find it helpful to have a few pegs to hang things on.

I always hang my keys in the same place so I never have to wonder where they are. My wallet, glasses, and phone each have their places, too. And every evening, I lay out workout clothes for my early morning exercise. If I don’t have these few things to provide a backbone for my daily life, it rolls out of control.

As a follower of Jesus, I have four pegs that I hang my life on. They help me keep organized and focused on what it means to engage with and follow Jesus — real community, real worship, real life, real mission. These four pegs hold everything together so that it doesn’t roll out of control.

Real community

We all have a mess of relationships. And lots of them are a mess. (Come on, be honest.) But when we meet Jesus, we start to discover real community.

Relationships begin to take first priority. Yes, they are still sticky, but the commitment to working things out is stronger. If Jesus has forgiven us of absolutely everything, we ought to be forgiving one another as well. If God has adopted us into his family, then we are brothers and sisters and need to stick together as such.

In other words: Anything that draws me away from real community is drawing me away from Jesus.

Real worship

When we meet Jesus, our lives find a new center: Jesus.

We have met our Creator, and so we worship the One who made us and all that is good, true, and beautiful around us by offering worship back to him that includes what is good, true, and beautiful.

We have met our Savior, and so we worship the One who unloaded all of the baggage of sin and death that we’ve been carrying around with all the gratitude we can muster.

We have met our Life-Giver, and so we worship the One who has given us his own Spirit with all the joy and life and power within us.

When we get caught up on the methods and music of worship, it’s not real worship that we’re engaged in. The Trinity is our focus.

In other words: Anything that draws me away from real worship is drawing me away from Jesus.

Real life

When we meet Jesus, our lives take on a new depth.

Jesus isn’t just interested in saving us from sins. He does that, to be sure — carrying around the extra baggage of sin is not real life. But he’s interested in opening up a new kind of life in the Spirit — the kind of life we were created for in the first place. The Spirit brings God’s own life and power into our spirits so that we bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in all that we are and do.

In other words: Anything that draws me away from real life is drawing me away from Jesus.

Real mission

When we have had all of this community and worship and life poured into us, we experience more than fullness. We experience an overflowing life, a life that spills out all over the place because it simply cannot be contained. And that overflow is mission.

Seeing all the shallow forms of community, all of the idolatries, all of the not-life slaveries out there, we want the people we meet to get in on the real that we’ve discovered in Jesus. So, out of our fullness with real community, we invite others into community with us. Out of our fullness with real worship, we invite them to join us in worshiping the one true God. Out of our fulness with real life, we invite them to meet Jesus the source of our life.

Real mission is often uncomfortable, because it sucks us out of our comfortable little lives, but it’s not difficult.

Real mission is simply being our real selves and overflowing with all that God has been pouring into us so that the world gets in on it too.

In other words: Anything that draws me away from real mission is drawing me away from Jesus.

In the midst of the crazy-busy lives we lead, it’s essential that we not miss out on what’s real — meeting Jesus and discovering real community, real worship, real life, and real mission. Because if we’ve missed out on that, we’ve missed out on real living. And I can’t think of anything sadder than being so close to the Real and missing out on it.

But with these four pegs in place to hang our lives on, even all of the craziness that gets thrown at us won’t keep us from meeting Jesus and discovering the Real.