How does church become something “different?”

Christ both was and was not a “fighter.”

He was a fighter in terms of living an unwavering model of how to take a stand.  Through all four Gospels, the consistency of character described in each – despite the different accounts – is remarkable.

And in other ways He was not a fighter.  Never wielding a sword and only rarely using a pointed word, his favorite reaction to the gathering storms was quiet withdrawal.

How do we pull these two concepts together?  As one author noted, Christ lived a life of simplicity and non-violence that was definitively outside the cultural systems of  power, avarice, and control.  He did not then fight the system directly but in a rather unpretentious and yet threatening way opted out; that was the fight.  He simply ignored it and built an alternative world view based on an alternative set of loyalties with an alternative band of allies.

So how does church become something different?  I think it starts from understanding that it is never about building a church per se. It is about building an alternative way of life.  And that alternative should be “sticky!”  Religion is not a numbers game but should emobdy the key spiritual questions of the time – questions that get pressed upon culture not as a “fight” but as an alternative.

In these shifting times, who do I find most compelling to follow?  Men and women who carry forward that settled, unanxious presence that speaks to direct action.  Those people are not necessarily without fear but they carry it all with a resolve far more grounded in the reality of a loving God than the anxieties of the human condition.   From that place, they simply act and in so doing create a radical alternative – life beyond self absorption.

“But, my friend, abstain from evil, do what is good, and believe in the Lord with your whole heart and your whole soul; and the Lord will love you and give you love for what you do and faith in what you believe. Then you will do what is good because of love and you will believe because you have faith, which is confidence. And if you persevere like this, a reciprocal partnership with the Lord will develop and become permanent. This is salvation ifself and eternal life.” (True Christianity, 484)

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