For some “light” reading over the break, I borrowed, from a friend of my dad’s (and have subsequently gone and bought for myself), a trilogy of books by Brian McLaren – A New Kind of Christian, The Story we Find Ourselves in, and The Last Word and the Word After That. Fascinating. Very thought provoking. They have stimulated some interesting thought directions in my brain over the last 10 days or so. If you haven’t read them, you should at least take a peek at them (even if it is just the first one). I think that I have found some expression to nebulous ideas that have been bouncing around in my head for the last little while.
The challenge of the first one is being a Christian in a postmodern world. The church, despite its desire to be relevant, is still quite modern. However people are not, especially not my generation. How can I expect them to engage in a faith, religion, worldview (whatever your prefered term is) if it is not available in their “language”? We go to great lengths to translate the Bible into other languages so that people will be able to hear the gospel, but so many people who speak our own language miss out because we aren’t presenting Christ in a way they can understand. I mean, if I hadn’t been raised a Christian, I’m not sure I would be seeking out the church and Christianity the way it is now. So then what can I/we do? How can I/we become relevant? Well, thats one of the questions that’s been bouncing around lately.
Maybe we should lose the lable “Christian” and all the baggage that comes with it and focus on Jesus Christ. Isn’t that what Christianity is supposed to be about in the first place?
Another book I read over the holidays (I know, I was busy) was Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. Another excellent book. A story he tells in it really caught my attention: in the midst of a huge drunk-fest on his campus, he and the 7 or so other Christians on campus got together and made a confessional booth. They spent the day walking around in monk’s clothing, then went and sat in the booth. Students would come in and jokingly ask if they were supposed to “confess” everything they had done over the course of the drunk-fest. Instead, the group of Christians confessed to the students of their campus – confessed that Christians in general, and they themselves, hadn’t really been living up to what they should be. They hadn’t loved the people on their campus as much as they would have liked to, they had been judgemental… they went on and on. In the end, the Christian students had a profound impact on other students at their very secular American college. That really impacted me. How many times have I had the same attitudes to people on my own campus. Smug superiority, judgement… I’m not sure I want to think about that. What would the world look like if we dropped the lables and just tried to follow Christ? I mean really follow Him…