Tuesday, November 10, 2009

that just don't sound right

There are things that I hear people say that just don't sound right to me, but sometimes I don't know exactly why. One of them is that "my Christian friends are not as much fun and way more high maintenance than my non-Christian friends." Hmmm. While there may be some element of reality in that statement, especially when you are viewing a small slice of someone's life, I believe at its very foundation, this is a lie. And here is why:

1. People who follow and love God are committed to transformation. This is a slightly more taxing goal than having fun and going with the flow (understatement), but definitely more rewarding. A friend of mine said that it was very easy to hang out with his old friends, drinking and passing around a joint, but much of the time it was to avoid having to do the hard work of taking responsibility for one's life and to numb the pain that inevitably comes from this bumpy road we all find ourselves on. Being committed to transformation is about rooting out and eliminating anything that is an obstacle to loving wholeheartedly, living freely, and trusting a good God. A joyful countenance and a graceful, grateful nature are side effects of surrender to God's love, but real and lasting transformation is not an easy journey. It is only for the courageous. (Thanks to Michael Jones for articulating this point and getting me thinking about this.)

2. People who are friends of God are committed to walking through life with others, even when those "others" might not be a whole lot of fun to be around or a drain on our resources at times. It is easy to hang out with people of similar likes and dislikes, people who demand very little of you and who never challenge your self-sufficiency and independence. It is not so easy to be a part of a real familial community. To be clear, I am not endorsing ongoing bad or co-dependent behaviour, but we all go through phases where we have to face difficult situations and deal with certain destructive and unhealthy attitudes, in ourselves and in others. Some of us take a little longer to get through these challenges than others, but as long as there is a willingness to change, there is hope. I know I have been grateful for people who have had the patience and the graciousness to walk with me through my unlovely valleys. How could I not be willing to do this for someone else? This is what community is all about. The strong ones support the weak. We look out for each other. We don't let someone fall by the wayside. We don't walk away.

3. People who are brave enough to walk with God in a vulnerable and open way are some of the most stable, yet unpredictably funny and outrageous people I know. Their wildness is safe but not tame. They need no outside stimulus to have a good time. The gift of life is their excuse to party, and they do so with gratitude and generosity. They are real, truthful, genuine, and dependable. They engage with life in an earthy, deep way, but have the ability to transcend the banal distractions of life, including their own mistakes and those of others. They can make cleaning a toilet, putting together a bookshelf, taking out the garbage, making a meal for 12, or deciphering a messy spread sheet one of the most fun and memorable things you will ever do because all of life is holy and precious and large when God is in it.

I want to be a friend that people like to be around, but more than that, I want to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus. I don't know of any person more attractive than him, though he sure did piss some people off. I guess it just goes with the territory. Cheers!
This is a mysterious plant in the woods near my house. Earthy brown, yet filled with wisps of light, white fluff.

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