Better to Do than to Simply Imagine

One of the easiest preoccupations in life is imagining. Now, I’m not against exercising our imaginations. In fact, I LOVE imagining solutions to problems and thinking about creative and innovative approaches to old ways of doing things. So, let me say this right up front, “I am for imagining and being creative.”

However…Okay, you knew that was coming. However, (and you already know this) imagining is only a first step. If we fall into the trap of making imagining the end instead of the beginning of our effort, then we become stagnant and sometimes even paralyzed by the process.

Here at LifePoint I often challenge us to imagine how we could do church better than we currently do it. LifePoint, itself, is an experiment devoted to that very concept. We are unconventional in many ways because we have decided that there may be ways to function as a church which do not conform to the cultural norms we are accustomed to.

In some instances we call that agility, in others we call that freedom not to be constricted by constructs which may be of little eternal consequence. So we have jettisoned some of our baggage and decided to travel this path of Christ following with a lighter load.

I believe, and I hope you agree, that these have been good decisions. We have liberty to focus on following Jesus because we aren’t distracted by the dictates of external influences, or traditions, and the ever present “we’ve always done it that way.”

But the path of freedom, liberty and unconventionality does not mean there is no responsibility. The reality is that the responsibility is shifted. There is less dependence upon organizational compliance and more focus on individual accountability. In other words, the responsibility for the future of LifePoint rests with each of us, not with the organizational structure we call LifePoint. As with most everything in life, it’s as good as you make it.

Marketing genius, Seth Godin, often stresses the importance of what he calls “shipping.” He points out that we can be so focused on striving for the ideal outcome of our effort that we never implement that thing we have imagined. We never “ship” it; which is to say we never put it out there into the world for it to be experienced by others.

I think we might agree that the iPhone and its many android competitors have been wonderful innovations. But what if the designers had created these products but never shipped them? They would be useless to us. Not only that, it was our fascination with such portability which enabled this innovation in the first place.

Anyone remember (and this wasn’t too long ago) carrying around a cell phone AND an iPod or some similar music device? Because we loved the portability of having so much or our music library at our fingertips, we bought those devices and enabled the evolution of the product into its current form. Yet, had those devices never shipped we wouldn’t have what we enjoy today. And none of these devices were perfect when they shipped. Some had bugs, some had battery issues, some were clunky in size, and some just didn’t work well. But because we had them, we saw the potential and helped make them better. It’s better to ship something that’s imperfect than it is to never expose your imaginings to the light of day.

In a recent podcast, Geoff Welch made this observation about how we go about getting the most out of this new year.

“The plan you have, the resolutions you’re making, the big ideas and dreams you have for this year are awesome, but none of them will come true unless you show up every day, every week, every month, and do the work.”

If we want to accomplish anything meaningful we will necessarily need to invest ourselves in the doing of that thing. Thousands of years ago, James, the initially reluctant follower of Jesus (and Jesus’ brother), challenged us in a similar way when he wrote…

James 1:22-25
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror
24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

What does that mean? It means that when we look at the teachings of Jesus we can simply “know” what He taught or we can “know and do” what He taught. Knowledge is good. We need to know before we can do. But if we become contented with the knowing while failing with the doing, however imperfect our doing may be, then we really didn’t follow Jesus’ teaching at all.

This same James later wrote in his epistle to the church…

James 4:17
*17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Jesus never called us to perfection of execution, He called us to learn His teachings and make them the guiding principles of our lives. We may sometimes “ship” an imperfect product, but the good we do will not be wasted. God will bless it because it was offered for His glory.

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