My youngest son, Rainn (19 months old) is one of those kids who gets into “quiet mischief”. He’s perfectly content to go unnoticed for a sizable length of time. During that span of minutes, there’s tales untold of the trouble he has gotten into. Being prone to hugs and laughter, I know that he’s not doing these things out of spite or malice. The reason he does these things is because he’s interested in exploring; figuring out how it works, how it’s put together, and what better way to do that than to dismember or disassemble it? One of the not-so-quiet ways that he “explores” is to take full advantage of any and all mud puddles that he finds. He’ll enthusiastically stomp his way right through it, getting dirty, and fully enjoying himself. In the midst of all that, he’ll look over at us with confidence that we too, are totally engaged and excited for him and his discovery.
As I enter my mid-thirties, it’s become clear to me that I’ve taken my faith at face value for much of those years. What I mean by that is, I’ve rarely questioned many of the social and political claims that American Christianity has made over the years. The problem with this approach is that growing up, I often felt like my faith was irrelevant to a lot of my social interactions. So, I often lived my social life (outside of my Christian friends of course) completely apart from my faith life. Now, I’m not ignorant to the fact that I had plenty of rebellion propelling me to make choices contrary to the obvious teaching of the Bible. But there were so many social areas and groups of people wherein I felt that I needed to be a covert Christian. Here’s some insight to that statement.
I was taught that I should love others like Jesus did, but here’s what that looked like: get someone to church so they could change their ways, and start acting and looking like us so we could give them our “brotherly love”. That never felt right. Were we really loving others? Or were we just trying to recruit more people into our club? It’s questions like these and many more that I feel I MUST ask in order for me to grow in my faith. How about this one?
Would one of Jesus’ top five priorities be the safety of his Social Security and retirement funds? I really doubt it.
Or…would Jesus be a democrat or a republican? Probably not.
I can’t shake the feeling that if Jesus were living today, He would probably like worn and torn jeans, expensive, quality shoes, cool graphic T-shirts, and ride a slightly fuel-efficient motorcycle, well… that actually might just be me clinging to my idols.
What about this one? How many gay friends would Jesus have? Would He be trying to scare them straight with the gates of hell? On that note, who DID Jesus warn against hell? I’m pretty sure it was prideful rich people, and religious leaders that looked down on people not as “holy” as themselves.
I know I’m being vague and slightly antagonistic, but here’s what I’m getting at: when you take Jesus and the gospel, out of the context of an American subculture that attempts to ascribe where and on whom God’s gaze rests, the issue of relevant or irrelevant vanishes. Jesus and the gospel just IS. And isn’t that a derivative of what God called Himself? I AM.
For the record, being smart with money and being invested (to a degree) in our political system is great, but they are all secondary issues. To place the love of God, in the rightful center of how I interact with everyone and with everything is indeed my calling. To do that, I feel it’s vital to ask some questions about how I, as a Christian, am to function in society. I may get my shoes wet and dirty jumping in this puddle but I think it’s worth it.
The cool thing about mud puddles is that they are most often caused by water from the heavens, meeting with dirt from the earth. Is that not what Christianity is all about? Heaven touching earth? I’d say, due to the nature of that mixture, some parts of the puddle will be a bit cloudy and muddy. But instead of walking around it, I want to be a bit childlikeand stomp right through it. Like my son, Rainn, my intent is not malicious but exploratory. I believe when we ask questions out of a quest to live life with more love than we’ve lived with before, we’re stirring up healthy mischief. And isn’t that more fun anyway?
I know Rainn thinks so.