Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Living with Freaks

I’m not always up on the latest trends. I was surprised last week when I saw that the word “Eyjafjallajökull” was “trending” on Yahoo! I later learned this was the name of the volcano (which I had heard about, by the way) and then it made sense.

Some time ago a word that began trending in Christian circles was “community.” And not one to miss out on trends, I’ve been hearing a lot about it lately.

I’ve been reading Don Miller’s Blue Like Jazz, which was a big hit in 2003. He has a chapter called “Community: Living with Freaks.” That is a fantastic description of Christian community.

It also fits well with a sermon I heard recently in which Mark Driscoll spoke about Jesus forming a team of disciples. He mentioned that Jesus put the tax collector on the zealot on the same team, and his sound byte was that Jesus forms "weird teams." I.e., if God is at work in your church, you should find yourself surrounded by people who aren’t like you. He made the insightful comment that if everyone is just like you, there’s affinity but not necessarily community; whereas community is meaningful precisely because of the different personalities, backgrounds, etc. Or as Don Miller would say, community is about living with freaks.

Speaking of sermons, we just began a sermon series on Philippians at our church. Jeff Elliott (not Moose Jeff but Different Jeff) was telling me, in preparation for this series, that Philippians showcases (among other things) partnership in ministry. And if you look through Philippians, you find that this is indeed a very significant theme—or rather, an assumption. You just don’t find many people going solo in the Scriptures. Paul had his Barnabas, his Silas, his Luke, his Timothy. He wrote letters to churches, or to pastors about their churches. Jesus gathered disciples—twelve of them.

Which circles back around to our trendy Blue Like Jazz book. Miller has a great line in there… drat, I left the book at the office. Well, anyway, he says that when he browses the Christian bookstores he sees a lot of books written to individuals about the Christian life. He sees very few written to churches. (For the record, his didn’t break the trend either.) And yet, the Christian life can only be lived with others. And specifically, with freaks.

I prayed last night that God would help our church love more people who aren’t like us. And I prayed that when God sends this opportunity we won’t miss it.


Joel Pearce said...

So, following the logic presented by Driscoll, if a church isn't diverse, God isn't at work? So if we take it a few steps farther, God is "more at work" in hipster city churches like Driscoll's and Miller's than in rural homogeneous churches in eastern Lancaster county like mine?

Ken said...


I don't think that's his point. Using the idea of the "tax collector and the zealot" both being Jesus's disciples, he was saying that you get some odd mixtures on leadership teams, etc., because in Christ we come together around Him. I find it interesting that most NT epistles and even Acts had to address this issue repeatedly--"living together" with those different than us is tough, but Jesus apparently wants us to do it.

Perhaps this is a bit more explicit in city churches. And maybe it's not wrong to say, you know, that's one benefit of being a city church. They can learn from us suburban and rural guys too, but maybe that's something we can recognize as a strength they have.