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Friday, May 15, 2009

The Cost of (not) Being "Real?"

The following is a excerpt from Pete Galls "My Beautiful Idol" on the sense that we think we are being so real and open but seem to be desperately missing something, a long read but worthwhile.

At a Bible Study that Pete was attending the host/leader suggested that since they were going to talk about temptation that they would go around the room and each share what is the biggest temptations in their life. So Gall goes on to say..”If I’ve ever experienced a perfect example of the absolute loss of contact with the real world that exists in much of the Church today its in Twan’s question. Our biggest temptations? As an icebreaker? In a quick trip around a circle on futons over safeway grape soda and Chips Ahoy? I sigh I know how this is going to go. Joanie is first, because Twan gestures for her to start. I guess its probably procrastinating? Ooooh Good one, beck says. “That was mine” Kathy echoes. “I’m so bad about that.” “What about you, Kirk?” Twan continues. I think TV takes a lot of my life, he replies. There are nods. Crissy, the bublly, granola, Meg-Ryan-esque nurse who wears blue hospital scrubs at all times in next, “Chocolate. Absolutely. That is Holly’s too, though she doesn’t say so to the group. She turns to Joanie the Procrastinator and their body language makes clear the jealousy and bitterness the two heavier girls have toward Crissy and the attention she gets from the men in the group. The men, to Holly’s point, respond to Crissy with things like: (Antonio) “If that’s you sin it sure doesn’t show.”(Twan) “Better be careful-someone could use that against you” wink. (Robert) “You know, Chocolates and aphrodisiac” And as soon as he says it..he shrinks back a little. He’s obviously not the sort to say such things. Jon and I may are the only people in the room to catch what he said. We looked at each other and smiled. A new friendship is born. The next person in the circle is Pamela, a dark haired Swiss woman who looks and dresses lie a slender single mother in love with a rock star. In fact she is a single mother, to a 3 year old, and her ex-husband is in jail for something to do with cocaine. Twan scrapes his eyes off Crissy to turn the question about temptation to Pamela. “What about you?” he asks. “I think you’re all full of it” she says. “I like chocolate, and I would watch too much television if I could, but the truth is that what we really want is to be having sex.” There are guffaws and squeals and gasps and furrowed brows everywhere. But she continues. “I want chocolate, but I want it melted and licked off me. Several times. And so do all of you. Maybe in front of the television. And Joanie, even you wouldn’t put that off till tomorrow.” Twan is desperate to regain control of the moment. “Well I’d say the ice is sufficiently broken!” And he steers the discussion to the notes he’s printed out. As we file out at the end of the evening he pulls Pamela aside and tells here that he understands it was her first time to the study, but that her answer had been inappropriate, especially in mixed company. That’s Christian culture in a nutshell. We have this Bible that tells horrible stories about sin and depravity and temptations and addictions that overwhelm people, even to death. And we pray to this God who loves us and mourns over our suffering and yearns to clean us up, set us free and draw us to Him-and not necessarily in that order. And we have Jesus who sought out and spent His time hanging with people who laughed too loudly, who surely were not tea party material, and who were very often absolutely buried in inappropriate behaviors and lifestyles. Jesus preferred them because they were not religious “whitewashed tombs,” painted and clean on the outside but dead and reeking on the inside.
Christianity has this entire worldview that treats the filth of life as impermanent, redeemable, escapable, and unable to make the bride too filthy to be loved. But we have this thing in our culture where we don’t believe a bit of it. We work so overly hard to make God look good that what we say has no credibility at all; we lie about him all the time. We’re such cow-brained dullards. In our insecurities and arrogance, and out lack of honesty we demand to see God turn lives around, to do something cool for us. To be our dancing poodle. We want to be able to tell a great story about how well our lives have been transformed by this God who, to our exquisite torture, simply does not do enough flashy stuff for us to feel comfortable letting his work stand on its own. We are so desperate to share the good news that we almost always fake it. We forget the miraculous and we promise more than we really experience ourselves. And we are so conflicted about hot to be “good Christians”-people whose lives have been turned around and made squeaky clean-even though that’s not what we experience exactly, that we have developed a twisted hand wringing culture where we are far less mater-of-fact about sin and temptation and doubt and the profane than are our scriptures, our God, or even the rest of the world around us where there is no promise of rescue or redemption. We’re obnoxious fools, and our dishonestly makes us incredibly vulnerable and weak-and far from trustworthy to people who could actually benefit from knowing the Truth according to God.
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