Thursday, October 09, 2014

Christians on Parade

So, this week I had the chance to hear two podcasts I don't often listen to. I'm not a huge fan of Marc Maron's whole persona, so I've never listened to his very popular and well-respected podcast. This week I heard part of an interview with Jay Bakker (pastor and son of Jim and Tammy Faye). Additionally, I got to hear two and a half hours of conversation with Rob Bell on "You Made It Weird" with Pete Holmes.

Both guys are comedians who usually talk to comedians. Both found something compelling in these Christians who have a non-traditional perspective on the world. This seems like the kind of philosophical immersion Jesus spent his life doing. I found myself asking why the sort of comfort level required to engage in this way happens on comedy podcasts and not so often in the arena of the Church? Here are two guys who want nothing to do with the Church, but want desperately to talk of spirituality and life.

The Church absolutely needs to be evangelized; we need to confront ourselves with our own inadequacy and need for grace - to be pushed and challenged the way Jesus challenged the religious people of his day.

At the same time, the Church needs to be living in the midst of the world, because the message of Jesus Christ is universal, it is, at it's very basic core, a (the) way to live in the world - which is pretty important to most people.

I'm not sure why Christians are afraid of uncertainty. When the Bible says to have an answer to anyone who has a question about your faith, it doesn't mean have a reason their question is wrong. If there's something you can't answer honestly (even if the answer is "I don't know"), then you haven't dealt with it for yourself.

I can explain why I believe; that doesn't mean I have an answer to every question. It shouldn't have to.

Maybe I'm strange, but I want all the questions. I want to make sure I've explored the most lost and forgotten corners of the haunted mansion that is my psyche. The only truly scary question is the one you've never heard before - but it's also the most exciting.

The more time we spend pondering the world in which we live and the way in which we choose to live in it, the better able we are to move forward with confidence. I love hearing these guys in "regular" settings - in this case, both speaking on podcasts with comedians who've had difficult experiences with the Church in the past.

This is where Jesus spent his time. Interaction with religious leaders only arose when they showed up in the out-of-the-way places Jesus chose to live and work. Usually his responses to them were, "What took you so long?" and "Why don't you stick around for a while?"

Yes, these particular Christians may espouse beliefs contrary to your own or my own in some ways. Of course, if Christians are going to flee even from fellow Christians with differing views and difficult questions, then there really is no hope of engagement with the world at large. It just won't happen. We need people to engage on whatever terms are available or the whole message is lost. It's not about being right or making converts, it's about seeking truth - and you can't force anyone to believe something they're unwilling to believe.

I'd love to be part of a Christ-centered community in my neighborhood, but I don't want it to be some place where I try to convince people it's the right way to live. I'd much rather it be a group of people who've wrestled with reality and chosen to continue exploring together. I'd rather offer a Christian perspective on life to people who aren't pressured to choose, but challenged to think.

This can certainly happen in a traditional "church," but frankly, these days, it's far more likely to happen elsewhere. The kinds of conversations exhibited above are the kinds of conversations I want to have - they're the kinds of conversations that might just change the world.


Jared Willemin said...

Thanks for calling my attention to the old Holmes-Bell podcast. I particularly resonated with their discussion about preaching that goes beyond just telling people what they want to hear and with the importance of Friday moments not just Sunday moments.

Ryan said...

You can thank John Mulaney. I learned of the podcast because apparently Holmes was so excited about the interview he instagrammed that picture while he was supposed to be 'having lunch' with Mulaney as a cover for engagement ring shopping, and almost blew the cover. Crazy how that works.