A true freestyle theologian does not merely observe Good Friday and Ressurection Sunday, but rather they also seek to find out what practical implications there are from these biblical principles for their communities. Freestyle with me, are there areas of despair in your life and in society that just seem hopeless? How can Sunday invade those areas of life and community? How might Sunday be coming for you?
I must be honest, I have an ever growing itch to live truly shaped by the life of Christ and within His Kingdom. I know some think of me as radically living out my faith, and probably because of american christian complacency it may sometimes appear that way. However, when I step into reality and allow the Word of God to search me and measure me up to what we as a church have been called to, I am deeply humbled. I guess we all get to that place where we see that God is desiring much more from us in our lives. I know I am there, and have an ever growing itch that I have been ignoring for a while now. However, there are real choices to be made. Faithfulness to me, requires that I choose between the things of this world and God. Everyone is always quick to say that they have chosen God over this world, but we nonetheless make all our decisions based on consumerism, comfort, and security. Those things have enculturated our thinking so much, that we do not always recognize how impacted we are by main stream thought and culture. We are like a fish in water, that is all we know.
I have this itch… but I have been scared to scratch it. It means a complete letting go of the things I have been taught to trust. It is literally putting on a funeral for an empty system and recognizing that it is truly dead, letting it go. I think that at the point that you let go, you find a whole new freedom never experienced before. The whole system and the world and all its promises needs to be let go of. Deep down in my core I have an itch to let go completely.
I want to be able to be like the apostle Paul who said “Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
I don’t know about you, but comfortable Christianity is just not cutting it for me. It promises a lot, but in the end seems empty and watered down. I have this itch, and like any other itch, as I/you try to ignore it, it only grows in intensity. I have this itch and I believe that the time to scratch it has always been now.
Freestyle with me, what you think about what he said?
If someone didn’t pick it up from reading the bible, all one would need to do is look around (or inward) to see that we are comprehensively cracked and broken people. We are so distant and apathetic toward God, that it is embarrassing. Then of course, there a many of us who disregard God’s existence and imprint on all creation all together.
Our relationships with others is fractured as well. We lie, steal, commit adultery, become jealous, divide, hate, and kill one another. For those that do not commit those more outwardly vicious acts, let it play out inwardly with their thoughts and emotions. The damage we do to one another is clear evidence of our broken state.
Of course, we do not only do things to others, but we also have things done to us as well. We are betrayed, picked on, lied to, abused, mistrusted, and manipulated by others, leaving us even more damaged than we already were. Not to mention the harm that we do to ourselves as well, self hatred and self deceit, insecurities and fear, pride and ego, laziness, gluttony, and the list can go on and on. In the end we are left like a self contained island of disaster.
I would be wrong to ignore how we relate communally and globally as well. Because as messed up people, we make decisions that affect whole communities and other people groups all around the world. We are greedy, hoarding for ourselves and leaving little to nothing for others, we are apathetic towards others sufferings, we step on the powerless for our own gain. We stereotype others into villains, so that we might justify our actions against them, and we make distinctions from our own group, so that some can receive special privileges. All of this leaves our society systemically and structurally impaired.
We are comprehensively cracked and broken in every possible way and dimension. This is not a Calvinist piece on our total depravity, so we can sit around in a circle and dis on ourselves as a form of religious piety. Rather, I wonder how many places there are available for cracked and broken people to come together. My experience is that sadly the church is the last place where people can come together honestly and authentically, sharing their vulnerabilities and weak points. In church, we would rather put on a show as though we are perfect and deal with every situation with ease and grace because we are too blessed to be stressed.
How might we begin creating space where people can be transparent and authentic with one another in our brokenness. How might we lead others into cracked community, so that healing might take place? Freestyle with me…
Philly has the reputation of being a bit gritty and grimy, but I must ask the question, what would it look like in my community if God’s Kingdom dwelt in fullness? How would it look if all my neighbors subjected their lives under the Lordship of Jesus Christ? What visual picture in my mind would I have for everyone to be living authentically in community the way God has designed us to?
God’s desire is that His kingdom would be established here on earth as it is in Heaven. That means that God wants to rule and reign over North Philly as he already reigns over Heaven. Just imagine the Kingdom of God breaking forth into our neighborhoods, and they were all reverting back to creation, better yet a new creation that once again glorifies God in our relationship with Him and our relationship with others.
Martin Luther King once practiced some of this Kingdom Imagination, and he dreamed very big. He began to see what it would look like for the entire nation to allow the God of reconciliation to do a work of reconciliation among us. And while most would agree that his Dream has not been fully realized yet, we surely have made some strides, and it continues to inspire new generations to pursue “beloved community”.
So as we pray for the Kingdom of God to come here on earth as it is in Heaven, take some time and do some Kingdom Imagining. What would it look like for God’s Kingdom to be unleashed and to be embodied in your community as a whole as well as within all the individuals. Now go into your community and seek first the Kingdom of God. Flo with me, how can we live this out?