Sunday, September 30, 2007

September 17, 2007

“Can I just say right now that those people in no way represent who I am and what I believe.”

I said this line to a friend this weekend. I felt it was necessary in order to validate the fact that I am normal and a follower of Christ, that those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.

You see I spent the weekend in San Diego taking part in the wedding of a high school friend. It almost felt like a mini high school reunion, but with people you actually wanted to see. We all had a great time together and it reminded me of how deep relationships really run, even if it has been years since you’ve seen them. The most interesting part about the weekend was watching the wife of one my friends (not a follower of Christ) observe the rest of us who do claim to follow Christ. It was fantastic. I was given a running commentary on my sub-culture from an “outside” perspective. As the weekend progressed she continued to say things like, “I just don’t get it,” or, “I don’t even understand what they are saying right now.” As we did the wedding rehearsal and then interacted with the wedding party afterwards I began to interpret things for her. I had to translate jokes that weren’t funny to her or tell her what some phrase really meant.

It was actually a painfully embarrassing process for me because it showed me, in real and immediate ways, just how exclusive a simple thing like language can be to a person who is not from the same spiritual paradigm as me, or from any spiritual paradigm at all.

As we left the rehearsal dinner I observed the way some of the other people in the wedding party were acting. The moment we got in the car I said the line, “Can I just say right now that those people in no way represent who I am and what I believe.”

The conversation that followed was one of the most encouraging conversations I’ve had with an “outsider.” I was able to be open about the fact that my faith is so deep and so integral to who I am and what I am doing that I get so frustrated when it is trivialized and commercialized by people who want to turn it into something it is not.

“I do not follow Christ so that I can fit into a mold and have somewhere comfortable to go every Sunday morning. I don’t believe this stuff because I think it will make me cool or rich. I believe this because at my deepest parts I know it is true. As much as I might not want to believe it sometimes, I am compelled by the words of Jesus and I can do nothing else but follow him.”

The other people in my car responded positively to what I had to say. I can only trust that those words and our friendship might be the beginnings to a movement in their lives where God will be revealed. They remind me of the many people in Dan Kimball’s book, They Like Jesus but Not the Church. People who admire spirituality, admire the life and words of Christ, admire people in their lives that live that out authentically, but are appalled and distraught by the state the of the local church.

God, may you work in the lives of those out there that like Jesus but not the Church. And may you also work in the lives of those out there that like the Church… but not Jesus.

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