On a search for a better world, finding it in the most unlikely places
In the moment of our creation we receive the stamp of our individuality; and much of life is spent in rubbing off or defacing the impression. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827
Non-Conformity is suddenly cool. From Neo To Katniss, popular culture seems bent on holding up the challengers of the status-quo, the disturbers of the normative peace. Wouldn’t it be great to challenge the complacency of the way-things-are? Isn’t it grand to be rebel? I mean, after all, that’s who Jesus was, right? Wearing the vintage threads, hanging out with the edgy peeps, calling the mundane and the mainstream to task in sweeping anti-establishment sermons and bold declarations of God’s New-world- that-is-arriving. “Great, let’s be like that!” I hear so many young Christians in my generation saying things like this, believing things like this, seemingly ready to die on the hill of the anarchist…
Easy there. It’s not that easy. If you want to take the path of the religious disestablishmentarian, then YOU HAVE TO STAND FOR SOMETHING. We could all sit down and disassemble until we are surrounded by the nuts and bolts of the systems around us, we could break the institutional walls, shatter the icons, and throw down the system…maybe we should…but then what?
Yeah. Then what?
Remember what Jesus told the “rich young noble”? “Go sell all your designer clothes.” Cool. “Get rid of your ipod.” Aight, Jesus. “Give it to the poor.” Right on! “Come, follow Me” Oh. I’m convinced that, for my generation, the hang-up is not the rejection of the idols that have dominated Church culture for centuries, but the daily banality of excruciating discipleship. It’s not only our selfishness that we must deny, but also our tendency to walk the path of least resistance, even in our attempts to be like Jesus. It’s never easy. It’s like dying every day, like drowning, like bleeding…
“If anyone wants to follow me, they must continually renounce selfish desires, take up their cross, and follow Me”
I truly believe that my generation will stand in the wreckage of the Church as we know it, but it will take more than the negative trajectory of deconstruction to create a better future. We must live lives of audacious hope and self-effacing love in keeping with the magnitude of the questions we have asked. We must be prepared to sacrifice ourselves on the altar of faith again and again, until the downtrodden and oppressed, the broken and hurting, the lonely and outcast all find a home in the shelter of the sacrificial lives we have chosen. The more I read the Bible, the more I study the story of humanity, the deeper I dig, the more I am convinced of this.
Still wanna take the path less traveled? Then be prepared to leave everything behind. Be prepared to die. Only those who are prepared to die can truly live original lives. In the words of Jesus: “Those who cling to their lives will lose them, and those who willingly give them up will find True Life…”
So come on, let’s write a story worth being in…
The Suburban Vagabond