The recipe that isn’t

I was talking with a friend about following Jesus. My friend, like many of us, like me, would find a formula helpful. It would be great to have 3 steps or 5 levels or 12 magic words.

But recipes don’t seem to work with Jesus. My friend reminded me of the opening chapter of Searching for God Knows What, where Donald Miller says,

“To be honest … I don’t know how much I like the idea of my spirituality being relational … the formulas seem much better than God because the formulas offer control; and God, well, he is like a person and people, as we all know, are complicated. The trouble with people is that they do not always do what you tell them to do.”

I thought about this idea of no formulas, and of God as a person. I realized that though I can’t offer formulas, I can offer something else. I can suggest what to expect in conversation with God.

This is what you would do, right, if a friend of yours was wanting to meet another friend of yours who is a person of some authority? You’d offer some character insights?

So, here are a couple thoughts.

1. Jesus often helps you with the conversation. “What do you want?” is what he asked a couple disciples who came to him in a referral from John. Not meanly, but invitingly.

2. Jesus loves you more than you hate yourself. Our self-loathing gets in the way of conversations at times. We assume that people won’t want to talk to us. But Jesus seems pretty willing to talk with people who didn’t have things together.

I’ll keep going next week, starting with these:

3. Jesus challenges just about every attempt to routinize religion.

4. Jesus does make demands. But not the ones that we impose on ourselves.

300 Words A Day – Kindle edition

6 thoughts on “The recipe that isn’t

  1. Lisa Cree

    John you hit the nail on the head. It’s a control thing (a trust thing). I so often want to create a formula with my relationship with God. If I do this, this and this, then I can expect this, this and this. Although there are spiritual laws He has established He wants above all else relationship and not religion And that requires me getting out of the place of “having to control” and trusting Him. Believing Him to always do what He says He has done. Our experience with other humans can hinder us trusting God many times because they will fail us sooner or later. So we struggle with unbelief that God can ALWAYS be counted on. Thanks for sharing this post. It really hits close to home with me and it was a gentle reminder that God wants relationship with me, not my formulas or check lists. Be blessed brother!


    1. Jon Swanson

      Lisa – one of the ideas that I’m thinking about for this list is trust. Not the kind of trust we have in chairs or other inanimate objects, but the kind of trust we can have in relationship. And I was thinking through relationships for examples of that kind of trust. And I realized that people always fail, somehow. We always don’t live up to every expectation. We always disappoint.

      So how do we identify the animate relationship for trust? Hmm.


  2. Diane Brogan

    Thank you for this beautiful post. It is so easy to get caught up in the formality that our relationship with Jesus changes. Thanks for your thoughtful words.


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