Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sunday School Answers are for Punks

When did it happen? When did Christianity become boring? When you look back to the early apostles their life was nothing near boring - traveling from church to church, house to house avoiding the Roman authorities who were looking to squash any threat to the government of Cesar. Most of them are killed boring ways like upside-down crucifixes and "death by sword." That doesn't sound boring to me.

Take John the Baptist. He lived a boring life of calling out the Jewish and Roman leaders to repent and turn from their sins, all the while living in the wilderness, eating locust and honey and wearing animal skins. Eventually he directly calls out Herod Antipas, a Roman leader, for marrying his brother's wife and is beheaded for his comments.

The list goes on: the early Celtic monks, St. Patrick, Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther, Dietrich Bonhoeffer they all rocked the boat. At no point was their life boring, nor did they ever believe God wanted their life to be boring. Excitement and uncertainty was a daily part of their lives.

Christian Anarchist. Most don't believe that those two words go together. How about Christian Pacifist Anarchist? Wasn't that Christ himself? Didn't He rock the very foundations of our world? If we took the gospel literally wouldn't we turn everything on it's head and create total and complete anarchy? Selling your possessions and giving to the poor? What are you kidding me - that isn't literal, right? Offering up your right cheek when your enemy smacks you on the left one? First being last, last being first. What the heck is He talking about? None of it makes sense to our well groomed, mainstream, boring Christian society. I don't believe it is supposed to be this way, I believe God wants us to be wild, to be trouble makers, far from boring.

French Christian Anarchist Jacques Ellul once said: "Christians should be troublemakers, creators of uncertainty, agents of a dimension incompatible with society."

If I spend what I usually do this Christmas, I'm not incompatible with society. If I give my extra change once a year to the lady ringing the bell back and forth when I walk out of the grocery store, I'm not incompatible with society. If I sit back and veg out to American Idol, or buy Coke because they tell me to, or vote for "insert name of any politician in the U.S." I'm not incompatible with society. We have surrounded ourselves with so much routine that incompatibility and uncertainty are the last two words out of our mouths.

We forget about God from Monday morning through Saturday night because we view Christ as a real nice guy. We missed the point. When we view Christ as a real nice guy, we view Christianity as boring. We try to have all the Sunday School answers for our non-Christian friends, when what most people are looking for is what Christianity really is - exciting, uncertain, wild, and appealing. Christ was radical, an extremist, an "agent of a dimension incompatible with society." Maybe we should start taking His words literally and the majority of non-Christians (and Christians) will really start to live as Christ desired - as "creators of uncertainty," we will all become Christian Anarchists.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Football Makes People Happy

Our monthly homeless outreach was yesterday. In October we went down under the Burnside Bridge and ate with around 125 homeless men and women. One of them, nicknamed Dimples, mentioned that he would love to watch the San Francisco 49ers play. So, we decided to bring down a TV. I brought the TV, Tim brought the generator and Dish Satilite. With his level and compass in hand (amazing work this guy Tim) he brought the joy of football under the Burnside Bridge. About an hour in, I had to step back and just take it all in, about 30 homeless men and women watching football on a 27inch TV under a bridge in 35 degree weather. It was awesome! Some of them smiled for what might have been the first time in a month, and we were able to take a little bit of time, and small amount of the resources God blessed us with and lay that down in front of these people. One man was given a Bible and wanted us to sign it. Another asked us to pray with him because his wife had cancer, and he was flying to California the next week to meet his mom for the first time (he had been adopted and looked to be about 35). We prayed for healing both emotional and physical. These are all mustard seeds!

Our job isn't to catch the men, our job is to throw out our line and fish for them. God supplies the terminal tackle.

Towards the end of the afternoon, when the Broncos vs. Bears game went into overtime a homeless woman who was with a quiet man in a wheelchair leaned over and asked how we did all of this. I explained how we plugged the TV into the generator and how Tim brough his satilite dish down. She responded with "Football makes people happy, all of this gives them hope."

"All of this" is Christ working little mustard seeds of His love, even if it is an overtime win for the Bears - sorry Paul.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

In a box

Our church, Grace Chapel, did a little profile on what we do when we go downtown. They showed it the weekend Donald Miller spoke. We were not at all interested in going downtown to "feed" the homeless and speak the gospel, all the while having a camera over our shoulders. Seemed a little weird and a little too much self-promotion. The last thing I wanted was for these people to feel like we were using them, especially in God's name. They are people. So, all that said, I didn't really want to do it, and I believed it would be very awkward.

It was awesome! God basically told us, "your expectations are so lame. Don't you know that I can work any way I choose. Don't dare put me in a box!" In about 20 minutes (that was all we really had, we had somewhere to be.) we prayed with several people, blessed 25 of the homeless men and women we met with a sack of food, water and other supplies. Serenity randomly connected with a woman that she has kept in contact with since, and actually saw at the very next homeless outreach we did with Grace Chapel the following Sunday. For this woman, the support and prayer she received from God the Father through Serenity that afternoon means the world, and might have been the only reason God sent us down that day. Don't put Him in a box.

Check this link for the video Grace Chapel cut of that afternoon.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Our own Civil War

A couple, named Tim and Jen Fidanzo are coming with us. They made the decision (at least Tim did, Jen had months earlier) at a prayer meeting this past fall. While a friend of ours was praying over him, Tim got the vision of our dining room "chalk board," where we write down any thoughts or comments, or questions we have for our upcoming journey. He envisioned it, and the map of the United States that is taped to it, as tracks. Our friend was praying that Tim would know that God had already laid out the tracks, and that all he needed to do was to stoke the engine and fly ahead, not worrying about where the end lay. It was that vision that Tim heard God call him and Jen, and that calling was to join us in downward spiral.

Now, I like the Fidanzos a lot. They have a bunch of strong qualities, they love working with the poor, but most of all, they love Jesus. However, they are Duck fans. And in a season where the Ducks look poised to make a BCS run, they let everybody (especially OSU fans) know it. Not saying they weren't Duck fans last year when they went 7-6 and lost to OSU in the Civil War and got drummed by BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl (wouldn't have even made a bowl if it wasn't for the asterisk win vs. Oklahoma by the way).

I know God has planned this. Going alone, just isn't how God designs it. He calls us to do life together. When you are real with people and you take the time to really "live" with other people, it can get messy. Problems can arise, conflicts can grow, and frustrations can overwhelm. But this is how God designs it. Community is what God wants from us, not individualism. Individualism creates thoughts like "mine and theirs" and "us and them." Jesus never used that language. Living in loving community forces us to say words like "ours" and "we." In many ways you could argue that living in community is one more way we die to our selves and grow nearer to Christ. The early Church of Acts did:

All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:44-47

Going with Tim and Jen will allow us to refocus on God day by day, minute by minute. When Tim says some stupid comment about the 27 year losing streak or I talk about the four picks and 2 fumbles Harrington had in 2001, God is giving us an opportunity to humble ourselves, take a step back, see a much bigger picture and die to self by lifting another up in humility. Seriously, look at Matthew 19:30 - But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. Loving Christ really boils down to putting others in front of you (downward spiral).

In reality, Tim and I need each other. To be who Christ is calling us to be on this journey, we need conflict, so that we will have the opportunity to humble ourselves and put the other in front. Without community we would never learn this. Without iron and iron, we would never become sharp.

I have a feeling though, sometime in late November or early December, I will wear my orange and black and he will wear his green and pee yellow. :)