August 2, 2006


There's a certain amount of delicacy that one has to worry about when changing one's entire lifestyle to reflect his beliefs. That, in a way, is why I'm here in Melbourne. I'm really not much of a missionary; I'm horrible at meeting new people, I prefer my computer's dimly lit screen or my guitar's easy company to the company of lots of new people, and I don't deal well with impulsiveness. I'm a man of my schedule, of my habits, and I'm not that great at recognizing evangelistic opportunities when I see them, unless they're the "hey, you're a Christian, tell me about Jesus" variety.

But I think, by some freak chance, this may be one of those rare occasions that I've taken some initiative and handed control of my life over to somebody else. The occasion, by the way, is a chance I have to work with Urban Seed as my mission project for my FORGE internship. It's a big change in my lifestyle; the simple act of helping prepare lunch with both business-types and the poverty types and drug addicts is ... well, a hard thing for me. But I have to remember that change is a constant, and that everybody has to endure it, like it or not. That being said, there are three sorts of people in this world: those that willingly change, those for whom change is hard, but do it when they notice it's necessary, and those that refuse to change and get dragged along behind the train.

Sometimes I'd put myself in category 2, like right now, but mostly I'm a category #3. I'm horrible at change; I've only ever changed my hair style once, it took mom ages to convince me that sweatpants were really just not a good idea for public use, and I still think that comfort is more important than style. Incidentally, stubbornness and one's fashion-sense shouldn't go hand-in-hand.

Getting me to change my mind on things, usually, is the hardest thing ever. It's like a delicate surgury, where the doctors are all dressed up in their clean-suits, gloves on hands, and they're trying to replace one part of my body (my heart) with a new and better one. They have to do it slowly and carefully, without much chance for error, lest their charge die a horrible death.

It's not a lot of comfort that lots of people think change is supposed to be like a triage center, where we brutally rip the person open, quickly "fix" what's inside, and then move on to the next victim - I mean patient. One of the things that worries me about so many American emergent-types is that they tend to be all for disbanding every church in America and revamping the whole system themselves, as if everybody would agree or be out: sensible Christians would agree, and to hell with the rest of them, they're giving us a bad image. I must confess, when I first began to agree with emergent- and missional philosophy, I was one of these. I thought, ya know, this is the way to go, and every church should do it just like I think it should be done and think the way I think.

It's just not realistic. I've come to realize that it just doesn't happen that everybody is on the same page. We have to learn to accept each other's differences if we're to work together for the common goal: a world unified in Christ. Some people are harder to work with than others, but in general, I've found that if we put behind differences like "pre-trib vs. post-trib" or "baptism by immersion vs. sprinkling" or "evolution vs. creation," we find that we quite like working together, especially when we get our hands dirty when we work together with real people instead of theories. My friend Ruth is moving her family to Thailand to work with orphans. The thing is, she'll be living and working with Seventh-Day Adventists. She's a Wesleyan. If you know anything about denominations and their theology, you'll know it's not much of a match. Yet still she goes, because they have a common creator, a common savior, and a common goal.

The irony is that, in saying this, I'm asking everybody to agree to my position. I know that won't happen, but I hope that many will try. I know it's hard, and many times we'll just have to part company. If anything, maybe this will just help make that parting a little more agreeable and less spiteful. Hopefully with so many different ideas, somebody is bound to be right, or more likely, we've all got some part of it right and maybe collectively, with our little bits of truth combined, we'll start seeing some bigger part of the picture of God's plan ...

1 comment:

shawna said...

Good one. I've heard plenty of people, as you say, unimpressed with churches the way they are run now, and saying everyone is doing it wrong, and I have to say I get a little offended, because the church I'm in now -- of course isnt going to get it right all the time, because its full of human beings, but God has given our church a vision and I believe in that vision and want to do my part in seeing it through. Not to say that visions shouldn't "morph" as time goes by because needs change and God takes people to one place and then...of course would want to take them further - which means change (by the way, I'm impressed you are so willing to admit to your adversity to change, I think there are alot of people out there who like to think they like change, but when it comes down to it they end up getting "dragged along behind the train"