I read a Facebook post comment yesterday where a woman wrote about being dissatisfied with some of the churches she’s frequented. She called one a Stepford church because everyone looked alike — women wore the same kind of 2.5 inch heeled pumps and similar floral print dresses, calf-length, with a platter collar. It made me think about the followers of Jesus’ in his day — certainly not a bunch of primped up clone-like people sitting in a building, but rather a bunch of rag-tag outcasts following a wandering teacher on a mission.
Following Christ has nothing to do with conforming in a homogeneous church, secluding ourselves in a holy huddle with just our kind, or trying to look the part of the perfect Christian. Following Jesus is an adventure in an upside down kingdom of non-conformity, joining with a band of halo-crested, God-loving ragamuffins of a trillion different sorts and sizes. We’re a shining light troop of many-colored skins, round and thin, tall and short, belly laughers and wall-flowers, belligerent belchers and priggish prissies. We’re quirky holy rollers, each crafted in our mother’s womb, branded with a unique blend of spirit breathed gifts, sent into the world with a bow on top.
Like aliens, we live amongst robot-like, soul-numbed, desperate world climbers, in a swampy, sinking territory of delusions. Yet, we’re also part of a subversive kingdom on earth, a God-breathed, invisible, holy kingdom our faith tells us is real, more real than the moon, and the stars, and the presidential elections. It’s the oasis in the desert,the billowing willow in the thorns, a promised land, brought directly from heaven to a dirt packed, rocky-road earth where God shines a light through our eyes and a spotlight in our hearts — where we shine and pay it forward for the waking dead, so they too can rise.
Turning our backs on American Dream yearnings, on double-car garage strivings, corporate ladder climbing, and heaven defying callings, we steer toward the beating heart of God’s will as disciples in this topsy-turvy kingdom where sinners are saints, the poor are rich, and those in mourning are most blessed. We cross boundaries of racial divides, befriending the other, serving instead of leading, forgiving rather than hating, turning the other cheek.
We’re God’s contortionists, shift-shaping, morphing from sinners into God-shaped, rag-tag saints in-progress. I don’t say it’s easy, in fact I fail most days at morphing into a Godly person. Those ugly, shadowy patterns of anger, unforgiveness, worry — you know– they sneak back in the cracks in our souls. Yet, I’ve found that in following Christ, grace comes along, convicting, refining, offering us wisdom for doing our imperfections in new ways, and sometimes helping us to just surrender. Yes, transformation into ‘little Christs” is often a slow refining process. Yet, what’s so great about being a rag-tag saint in-progress is, like the early followers of Jesus, we’re never expected to be perfect, we just keep stumbling along trying to do our best, and we’re still very loved.
Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest! Put my yoke upon you!
This is the way of the Prince of Peace, the counter-cultural, world-changing carpenter-savior, who took roofs off religion, masks off injustice, and who, by loving the unloved, set an earthquake-like revolution in motion through the centuries, a revolution still rising, quietly, like yeast. It’s a way paved for us by the great orator of creativity, the designer of zebras and amoeba, of kangaroos and diamonds, who made humans as colorful and diverse and bright as the millions of stars and moons, unique masterpieces made in God’s image, to help redeem the world.
Conformity we don’t do well. Status quo won’t work. Imperfect, diverse, and colorful works of art, we get out of our church boxes, take off our church pearls, put on sneakers instead of heels, and roll up our sleeves, diving deep into the outrageous fortune of God’s omnipotent, unorthodox will.
Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2
WE LOVE YOUR COMMENTS!