I’ve been in the midst of a move the last couple of weeks and I just now had time to slow down & reflect, and as of today I’ll be all caught up.
On most 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 6th in our series, “Whatever.” This one is titled “God’s Faithfulness Matters.”
I was trying to be quiet. The fraternity house was a wreck, and things had only died down a few hours before. The guys were all in either a light coma or heavy nap state so the sounds from the community shower area didn’t stir them. Khaki’s & button-down shirt were put on and I was headed out to meet my friends for church.
Before I hit the door, I hear a loud stereo fire up. I recognized the music as Amy Grant’s art, and I ran up the back stairwell to the room where it was coming from. Well, I knew. It was coming from Mark’s room. When I got there, I stuck my head in and interrupted his pre-church primping with, “Mark, wanna turn it down, man? 78 other guys are trying to sleep.”
“Nope,” he replied. “They keep me up all night with their partying, so if my party happens while they’re sleeping or whatever, well, that’s life.”
I shook my head. His reaction wasn’t unexpected…I’d recognized that our journeys walking with Christ were wildly different.
His pendulum had swung to an extremely rigid faith from the other end of the spectrum his freshman year. He’d gotten away from his faith that first year away from home and by this time he was reacting by a more Spartan faith-practice. He was big into student government and went to the big megachurch with the large college ministry and went on all the “evangelistic” ski trips for Spring Break and well, all the folks I knew in that scene were all names that were big on our college campus.
My situation was different. I’d come out of comparatively balance freshman year. To be sure, I had my moments of stupid-head hedonistic behavior, but by-and-large they were followed by apology and prayer and encouragement from my small group of guys. The ministry we were involved in was a bit more modest with a bunch of folks driven by a deep desire to dive into the Word and know/experience Christ that led to hard thinking and difficult questions. We went to a small church and our Spring Breaks were spent with our friends and we were all just regular guys.
While I understand where Mark was coming from and even understood kind of where he was coming from to a degree, that approach never jibed with me. He was big on 4-points and apologetics and highly visible pronouncements and big events. Those things all “worked” for him and his friends.
For me, well, my faith was much more confusing and difficult and inwardly revolutionary. I was changing the way I thought. Which tended to manifest itself in loving the guys I was living with. Those 78 who all had a “Yay, God! Boo, Devil!” mindset but generally didn’t have room in their lives for thinking about Christ and coming to grips with what His resurrection if it indeed happened would mean in their 1985 lives. The stupid-head hedonistic realities were much more tangible in their 1985 lives.
And I asked the guy who was discipling me how I could show them love. Sure, I could live some degree of behavior that was decidedly different and to some degree provoked their thinking. But how do you show them love with all the peculiar and unique dynamics a fraternity house lifestyle allows.
We brainstormed…and decided it would be Sunday lunch.
Let me explain, because that’s what Barry talked about as he was wrapping up His sermon when he said…
Let’s watch for glimpses of God this week. Let’s begin to dream of a better world. And, third, let’s look for opportunities to fashion foretastes of the world to come. To look for opportunities to fashion little foretastes of the world to come. There’s a sense in which the life of the church is supposed to be like a movie trailer, alright? That points ahead to something that’s coming. And it gives people a sense of anticipation about what they’re waiting for. And we need to be about looking for opportunities that fashion those kind of foretastes in the world. Sometimes these are tiny little things like reading a story to a child; providing care to someone who’s sick; making a piece of art. Sometimes they’re big things, like giving yourself as a volunteer…or giving money…sometimes they’re really close and sometimes they’re around the world.
While Charles and I certainly didn’t use the words “fashioning foretastes of the world to come” and wouldn’t have referred to it as any sort of movie trailer, the heart of it was along those lines.
See, on Saturday afternoon between the football game and the party that would lead to the light-coma/heavy nap after the revelry, I would grab a few bucks from each guy and take their lunch order. When I came home from church I’d stop by two or three fast-food places, grab their orders (“Yes, you can help me, I have 5 separate orders. On the first order I’d like a #5 with no tomato…”) and then deliver them to each room with their change.
I could serve. And show love. And it jibed with me because I did kind of like doing it and there wasn’t much room in my life for Amy Grant or booklets with 4-points to communicate to others. Just a simple act of serving.
And on one occasion, one of the guys I was having lunch with said, “You know, I’m not sure about Jesus. I mean, it looks to me like the one you talk about and the one Mark talks about are two different guys.”
Barry’s right. Sometimes that foretaste is a tiny thing. Like a crappy fast-food lunch for the privileged & hungover.
Barry’s right. Sometimes that foretaste is a big thing. Like attending seminary and giving my life to professional Christianity.
But the key, as I see it, is in the moment-by-moment…to seek out and figure out ways to serve Him and show His love where you happen to be as you happen to come across them. And sometimes that will be a conversation or a book reading to a child. Sometimes you’ll be on a plane to Africa or head off to seminary to be trained to lead through serving.
So, let’s do that this week…let’s look for those glimpses of God and dream of a better world so we can be a better foretaste of the Kingdom for those that don’t know Him, okay?