You're the ONLY Christ Most People Will Ever See
Okay! I realize that I’m never going to build a consistent gang of readers if I continue teasing and not providing. I am sorry about that — I promised you a post last Friday and here it is Wednesday and I’m finally getting around to it. I’m working on being more consistent — at this point, I can only beg your forgiveness and ask you to bear with me as I try to grow up in Christ.
1) Look for a new series starting on Fumbling, entitled “Grace is the Answer to Apathy.” I’ve had that sentence percolating on the back-burner fo two months now. I don’t have a ton of doctrinal disagreements in my neighborhood, and I think there are several important blogs addressing them anyway. The biggest problem I see in my local Christian family is apathy, and I believe that a deeper, rounder, fuller understanding of grace is the only real answer to it. It will be a long, slow answer, to be sure: but grace doesn’t snuff out smoldering wicks and it doesn’t break bruised reeds. Too many other so-called solutions do exactly that, and the last thing I want to do is drive someone away from Christ who is barely hanging on as it is. Sometimes the devil takes the appearance of apathy and lays it over someone who is hanging onto their faith by their fingernails, and a gust of motivational banter or a blast of self-righteous indignation will sweep that desperate soul right out of the kingdom. Grace, liberally applied, might save them — that’s the business I want to be about.
2) The 52 Greatest Stories of the Bible, by Kenneth Boa and John Alan Turner, is a stellar devotional resource and guidebook. These guys took on the unenviable job of selecting 52 absolutely essential Bible stories, and framing each for a week’s worth of study, lectio, and prayer. My amazing wife Carly and I are going to start eating this book in public next week, right here on Fumbling. I don’t know yet how we’re going to do it — candid posts from each of us, or one post where I take our responses and weave them into one short story. If any of you have tackled this sort of couple’s challenge, we’d love to gather wisdom from your experiences.
Finally — I think that the title of today’s piece comes from Patrick Mead — one of my favorite storytellers and servants of the risen Christ. He answers several questions every week at Tentpegs (I believe it’s up to 180+ now), and has also earned the trust of the local schools in the Metro Detroit area, so he is often invited to speak for Christianity in their Comparative Religions classes. No script, no reading the questions in advance — just prayer and grace and years worth of walking with Jesus and learning the tough lessons of grace.
When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, if we’re brave enough to pray it and mean it, it means that we are the only Christ most of our neighbors and co-workers and “strangers on the bus” will ever see. That’s the way our God has shaped his kingdom, so that it slips into the cracks of a broken world with His healing presence in our little clay-jar bodies. WE are his testimony — his law of unconditional, self-sacrificial love and compassionate truth-telling written on our hearts — we radiate the healing grace of His Spirit into every place we go.
Or we can. But usually we don’t, do we?
If we are clay jars full of fire (like Genesis 15), why are we so invisible?
Have we taped ourselves together with so much busyness, so many “important things”, that the cracks through which God’s light might shine are plastered over?
Have we wrapped ourselves so tightly in the clothing of this world that only our own radiance shines forth?
Maybe we don’t trust God’s power very much (this is me, I think) and so we’ve mixed the fire of God’s Spirit with some stuff that we think will make it burn better! Then it ends up smoking and smoldering, but we like the stink — we call it holy stink even as it chokes the needy people we draw towards it?
Whatever it is, I do believe Patrick is right — we ARE the only Christ most people will ever see — and we need to pray and walk and talk like it. Amen.
in HIS love,