Friday, February 16, 2007
Come to Jesus and Give Up a Bunch of Stuff
I stopped in today at the Vegetarian Church as usual. In a small way, I feel I have achieved rock star status when I arrive. My job is probably like delivering flowers or driving a beer truck. Who’s not cheered up when you see one of those guys coming? Such is the case with me and my bread delivery. Folks swoon when they see the five grey trays on my hand truck, loaded with sourdough, ciabatta and baguettes only about 3 hours old. A few Kling-ons have taken to walking me out to the door, hoping for a freebie of day-old loaves. I gladly oblige. As I described before, I get a foreign feeling when I look around the store. I see signs and stickers in the storeroom there that I don’t have on my VW vanagon or cross-stitched on a pillow, like, “EatMoreKale.com” and “IF YOU'RE NOT OUTRAGED, YOU'RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION!!!!!!” I don’t have anything against kale or being outraged. It’s just not a part of my daily lifestyle. Vegetarians and Christians have something in common in that they seem to be noted by what they can’t or don’t do. Both are full of rules of behavior. I don’t eat meat vs. I don’t have premarital sex. I’m struck by how the limitations are the part that is most visible, instead of the benefits of living according to the perspective values and lifestyle. Is this to be expected when living according to a law? I’d become a vegetarian if someone proved that his life was filled with more joy and happiness than mine, by showing me the benefits of giving up bacon for tofurkey. Why would I want to give up a juicy burger once in a while, just so I could eat FauxBeef? Are the three weeks added to my life worth giving up the pleasures of dairy for drinking soy milk? I’m just not interested in putting limits around my life that I don’t understand or even have a value for. I believe this is the state of the Church As We Know It. For a season the Gospel has been equated with forgiveness and morality. This is where I met the Good News twenty some years ago. I was told I needed to be forgiven and that God expected me to step in line and change my behavior, so like a vegetarian who can’t eat meat anymore, I was a Christian who could no longer listen to certain kinds of music. His FauxBeef was my FauxMusic. Is there a difference? This is where the Church of the Future has got to be characterized by more than limitations. The Gospel is not a call to morality, so it cannot be explained in those terms. It is an invitation to a life of faith. It is a call to Life itself, and when one is truly alive, he is only limited in ways that threaten that source of Life. This is why the joy of the Lord is our strength. And if it doesn’t bring me joy, I don’t want any part of it.