I’ve been in the midst of a move the last couple of weeks and I just now had time to slow down & reflect, so I’ll be getting caught up.
On Saturdays, I’m writing my thoughts on sermons I hear. Today’s entry was inspired by Barry Jones’ sermon given at Irving Bible Church, the 3rd in our series, “Whatever.” This one is titled “God’s Sovereignty Matters.”
The lead singer was all bald and sweating and tatted up with spiked wristbands. The band played a lot of barre chords in “drop D” tuning and was hard-working and had to do it because they loved it as not many folks knew of them even in their niche genre. The crowd was about 1,000 strong and the type of fans that fit the definition of fringe in that no one was there that didn’t love the band and know every word to every song. The band kicked back hard to avoid being labeled a “Christian” band and spent a lot of time repeating “a band made up of musicians who happen to be Christians.” Lyrics included “I’m crawling out of my skin/I hope I get under yours…Oh how I/want to be/an offense/an unsettling presence in this life” and “His faithfulness/my hope/It brings comfort to my soul/With a still small voice whispering/”call upon my name and I Will set you up on high”/Be still and know that I am God.” The crowd went from full-throttle mosh pit & crowd surfing to kneeling in a field in the drizzle in worship.
In short, I was with folks who I “got” and they “got” me…even if an overwhelming majority of my Tribe would likely have very strong reactions and opinions about who, what, where, when and how this moment could be giving any glory to God at all.
What most of the overwhelming majority of my Tribe doesn’t realize is that the small group of folks who I “got” and “got” me have very strong reactions and opinions about who, what, where, when and how most Sunday morning worship services could be giving any glory to God at all.
See, I’ve found a very real danger of hovering around the fringes: We can be very, very prideful.
Here’s what I mean. Those of us who often feel like we aren’t “gotten” in the Tribe pretty much find each other. I can’t explain how. It simply happens. You say something like, “the music in church is bland and boring” and someone says they “get” that and you start to hang out. Each of you knows a few folks like that and *presto* you have a sub-Tribe who sees life and church culture the same and kind of wants to be a part of church life but the way it’s done by that overwhelming majority doesn’t resonate with you.
See, we “really get” how it should and could be. The status quo needs a few Molotov cocktails thrown over the police line, right? We love prophets and revel in discontent and want to use that to disturb and agitate and initiate change. For the good of everybody, right?
But there’s a problem with that. This quote in the sermon turned a light bulb on in my mind:
God is intimately attentive to the details of our lives. He is good. He is faithful. He is disposed towards us in compassion and grace and he is intimately attentive to the details of our lives. And He is writing a story in your life and mine. A story that is ultimately designed to bring Him glory. A story that He desires for us to encounter Him in His love and faithfulness in the midst of the details.
God is intimately attentive to the details of my life and is writing a story to encounter His love and faithfulness. Mine so happens to involve tattoos and mental Molotov cocktails.
At the same time, God is intimately attentive to the details of…
…the suburban soccer mom who loves her minivan and Bunco group as well as the blue-haired angsty teenage girl who vows never to be either of those things.
…the Republican accountant who gets involved in tea-party politics and the Democratic Peace-Corps worker with borderline socialist leanings.
…the Baptists and the Methodists and Presbyterians and Pentecostals and Cessationists and Calvinists and Armenians and house churchers and megachurchers and oh man I could go on and on with labels and stereotypes.
…the five-year-old that just accepted Christ and the 85-year-old that just accepted Christ that have the same level of theological understanding as well as the seminary professors.
…the sports-loving beer-drinking movie-loving ex-fraternity jock as well as the academic-loving tee-totaling book-reading PhD student.
…the woo-girls and the hipster introverts.
…and this is where we all could add to the list with our own extremes and stereotypical examples. In the interest of time, I’ll stop here, but know I could do that for a while.
My point is that if God is writing my story, at the same time he’s writing stories of everybody we rub shoulders with. And Barry is correct in that those stories are being written to glorify God Himself.
So, maybe we should all beware of the prideful thinking that leads us to think my way is the best way, and learn to sit back and appreciate the in-progress stories being written in the moment-by-moment lives of people we’re going to spend eternity with hanging out in the dwelling places being prepared for us, no? No matter how it looks or whether or not we “get” it…just appreciate that God is at work writing a living letter right before our eyes.