Just How Bad Were You?
When I was a kid going to church, there was a lot of excitement generated around the story of how you came to faith. Being a good kid (in the generalized sense of comparison to people, but not in comparison to God, you understand), I didn’t have much of a story. In conversation with friends once, we lamented not having amazing from-the-pit-of-hell stories. We were convinced that was the whole essence of Christianity—that story of how you were a junkie/homicidal maniac/generalized ass but now you are a teetotaler/upright citizen/polite human of seeming different coinage.
It wasn’t until years later I realized that conversion story was only one small story that became a kind of exploded view in my church culture. We encouraged it to show the difference our faith made—sort of like baiting the hook. Our church was constantly inviting others in and we thought this was why they would come. But once in—then what? Life as usual, I guess. We seemed to drop the topic or just worked on becoming more polite and avoiding being a self-righteous ass. (I generally failed at this).
We seemed not to know what to do beyond inviting and converting. There was no place in our theology for the wisdom of God to penetrate into our work relationships or to investigate story-telling in art and theater and music. Those were off-base tools of the dark lord. I never heard about boldly moving forward in faithful work.
I thought of this after reading the Coracle Journeys post on beauty and seeing again that old emphasis on witnessing. I’m not against witness, in fact I’d like to take the word to rehab along with fellowship and strategy. But life is a fully-orbed thing, not a single set of words that when uttered complete you. Life is full of gifts to give away out of crazy chesed to any and all—just like God does it.
Think about that as you go to church today, and step out of the straight jacket and into the sprinkler.