...and when necessary, use words."
- St. Francis of Assisi
Tonight I was at a meeting with some fellow Vermont Camp Association (VCA) folks. We have been charged with building a new website for our association. I decided we ought to meet at Grace Congregational Church in Rutland, VT. We met there because there were few other quiet, semi-private places to gather that has wireless internet connectivity.
So I walk in and see my friends John (pastor) and Candi (VCA). Turns out that Candi's husband attends Grace regularly. And, she's been there some. Then, Kelly (VCA) starts talking about how great the singing at Grace is. Here are two women that I didn't even realize went to church, let alone appreciated it!
Turns out Candi is Quaker. She grew up in PA. She has a high regard for Mennonites. She first met them in a disaster relief context and found the Mennonites to be extremely useful in that context. She said, "they show up, they do the work then they go home. They don't need money or recognition." And so I shared with her this idea that St. Francis of Assisi articulated so well - that we can live out the stuff of Jesus without a bunch of hype. In fact, Mennonites have claimed that so personally that someone I was talking to once cited Menno Simons with this famous quote (pardon the link to Wikipedia - my wife claims it's not a primary source...).
I'm not real sure where I'm going with this post. Mainly, I was encouraged tonight to find a spirituality and church connection in two people that I hadn't expected it in. I didn't expect it because neither Candi nor Kelly run camps that are "Christian" or for that matter expressly spiritual.
And this brings us to the big question on my mind this week. How do we follow Jesus in a way that is compelling, both to us and those around us. First, let me clarify, I don't think Jesus is a Christian. Jesus was Jewish. He wasn't trying to start a new religion. He was only doing what he says throughout the gospels - whatever the Father wants. But, that's another topic. It's relevant here because I think it's proof that we don't have to use Christian language or expect people to be Christian in order to follow Jesus.
So again, the question, how do we follow Jesus in a way that is compelling both to us and to those around us?
I think the way starts by actually doing the things Jesus says to do, no matter how we talk about these things. As we do these things, we may find words to describe them.
Dallas Willard and Richard Foster (and of course the wiki references for Cheeks Willard, Foster) brought to our attention something Jesus said - "obey everything that I have commanded." Amber and I have been parsing the gospel of Mathew for a list of commands. Finding out what Jesus expects and finding ways to live that out seems like a great starting place.
Now, If you don't get Jesus or think he's not particularly important then obeying what he commands will probably be a silly endeavor. And, if you find yourself in this category as I found myself, I encourage you to think more about how many connections you've made between Jesus and Christianity.
Don't get me wrong, I love Christianity. I am a Christian. But, that doesn't mean it hasn't caused me pain. And that pain is one of the many things Jesus has "saved" me from.