I can tell already this is going to be a convoluted one... Since I’ve been working like crazy this week, I haven’t been able to write... So I’ve had a while to think about it. I got lots to say on the topic... which is a little hard to name.
Will the Christian life turn
me into this?
It’s just that, well, if you believe what you see on TV and movies, the Christian life looks like... Ned Flanders, the super sweet but incredibly naive neighbor and object of Homer Simpson’s scorn... Or like stiffly prim and judgmental Angela on The Office. She’s not just the moral compass of the show, pointing everyone in the right direction – she’s the moral spear, skewering everyone. Most extreme of all are the types of Christians on, say, True Blood... Militant and fanatic - not above using violence to achieve their ends... Because, after all, “God hates fangs.”
... or this?
But it has been my experience that the Christian life is more like... Bruce Springsteen’s song Born to Run... An invitation from God to roar off wildly into the unknown... To “wrap your legs round these velvet rims and strap your hands cross my engines.” Going to see Bruce, aka the Boss, is a religious experience — each song is a prayer. But this song... I know its a classic and all, and everybody likes it, but for me, hearing it is like... getting a love letter from God... and He’s inviting me to escape the “deathtrap, the suicide rap” of ordinary life and ride through those mansions of glory... and go and walk in the sun with Him... I love the line that says, “I want to know if love is wild, girl I want to know if love is real...” Because, really, you’ll never know if you don’t hop on the back of that bike.
Or maybe it's a wild ride
through mansions of glory...
Or it’s also like the Otis Redding song Hard to Handle. Of course, when I think of it, I hear the Black Crowes... ‘cos I love Chris Robinson, but never mind that. I hear this funky number as an invitation to allow God to “light your candle...” “to prove every word” He says. That part reminds me of the place in Malachi where it’s actually talking about giving money to God’s work. It says,”Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
In my way of thinking, it applies to life itself – as if God is saying, “Bring your whole life to Me and see if I don’t cause it to overflow...” And Jesus said this: “Truly I tell you ... no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age...” The reward is rich, but look, He is daring us to give our whole selves to Him! I guess in that way, He is “hard to handle” like the song says. (The Chronicles of Narnia books are always telling us that Aslan is not a tame lion!)
Not tame at all...
Sure it’s a scary prospect... riding this Lion who is very NOT tame. I mean, I remember being on the brink of that decision and wondering, what if he turns me into Ned Flanders or Angela on The Office? But I know now that it doesn’t work like that. Sure, i’ve changed in a lot of ways, but not in ways that I expected... Instead of going from regular person to super-nerdy judgmental person... I went, over time, from lonely super-broken person to on-the-mend person with a bit of help from His friends. It just made me more of who I already was... like in John Steinbeck's East of Eden when the Chinese man says that studying Genesis in Hebrew with a rabbi made the Chinese scholars more Chinese.
But I digress... What I am trying to say, is that, to me, the Christian life is not a tight, zipped-up way, but a crazy free adventure... Like riding in the Tardis with the Doctor... or riding on a wild lion's back... or jumping on the back of the bitchin’ motorcycle of the bad boy in the leather jacket...