these things shouldn't be all that crazy…

these things shouldn't be that crazy

sometimes i have fun conversations with other people who have crazy ideas about “church”, too.  whenever i do, i always say “well, it’s great to know we’re not crazy. or maybe if we are, at least we’re not alone.”

when i said it this past week i added–it’s really crazy that these ideas are often seen as crazy! somehow the wild & wacky ways of Jesus in the gospels has gotten so decked-out-with-bells-and-whistles, sanitized, professionalized, leadership-ized and institutionalized that really actually doing what he challenged us to do is seen as somehow radical.

i don’t really think these ideas should be all that radical for Christ-followers, but they often are:

1. putting in-the-flesh relationships first. above programming, gatherings, websites, practicalities, budgets, strategies, and everything else for that matter. Jesus didn’t speak into any of the things we often spend so much energy on. instead, his focus was on people–unplugged, raw, in-the-trenches relationships where we can practice love, grace, kindness, compassion, forgiveness and experience healing and freedom together.

2. a culture of inclusivity & equality. all invited & welcome at the table. all voices heard.  all voices matter.  men, women, black, white, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, gay, straight, married, single, liberal, conservative, healthy, sick–seeking freedom & hope, together.

3. deferring toward the margins instead of toward resource. over and over Jesus warned us that we couldn’t serve both God & money, yet corporately & individually we constantly make decisions that defer toward resource & power to keep things predictable & comfortable.  i do not think deferring toward the marginalized, the oppressed, the fringes, the ones without the resource & power should be a crazy thought for Christians!

4. shared leadership & diffused power over 1-person-at-the-top. it just feels odd to me that as supposed cultivators of the practice of authentic, loving community we’d continue to build structures that put all the power in 1 person.

5. the practice of love valued over knowledge or belief. throughout the gospels Jesus honors people’s active faith over doctrine or dogma.  he doesn’t saybefore you do this you have to believe x, y, and z or it doesn’t count.” he instead calls us to tangibly love, to sacrifice, to spend our energies on love & not laws.

i am sure there are many more.  these are just the 5 that popped into my mind in the moment.  what would you add?

* * * * *

ps:  i am also very excited about a new book project i’ve been working on called “down we go–living into the wild ways of Jesus” by civitas press, releasing june 1st.  this opportunity dropped in my lap late last fall, and i decided to be brave & work at integrating some of what i’ve written here over the past few years into a more comprehensive & practical resource.  i’ll keep you posted…meanwhile, thanks for reading & your encouragement & for reminding me i’m not crazy.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

7 Comments

  • What about being scared to share the world about Jesus and stand in HIS authority of your daily life. Meeting & hanging out with friends who don’t know Him yet? It seems to me a lot of Christians wants to keep Jesus for themselfs… and try to put Him in a box by making beautiful systems and don’t want to step out of that box of faith and share with the once who do NEED it! And pretend our Christian lifes are without fault! Instead of showing people our own vulnerability a lot of them judge, why? Because like every human being has masks! A lot of them are scared by what people would find out behind those masks! They get all uptide about with whom they hang out with, like owwww my neigbours they are doing so many evil things and i don’t want to be lead into sin……DUHHHHH!!!Who is affecting who, sin will be here untill Jesus comes back!I I can share with you with all honesty so many Christians lead me into sin too, so no~one is without fault not one hair on our heads does !! Like it says Jesus did not come for those who are already have seen the doctor but for the sick who do need a doctor! Why are Christians so afraid of sharing that great POWER!

    Reply
  • Yes, yes, yes! This looks like the church.

    I don’t really have anything to add, just a note I sent someone who is struggling with their faith, who is burned out on religion and church. This is what the body of Christ (the church) has looked like for me:

    “If you want to run into Jesus, you’ve gotta go to where Jesus hangs
    out. Maybe that’s at some churches or with some religious folk, but
    try this instead:

    Walk the streets. Find the bikers with their leathers and chains.
    Talk to them. Sit with the homeless under the bridge. Take them some
    socks and a sandwich. Go to a gay party and be nice to people when you
    talk to them. Sit with your neighbor who is dying and listen to her
    stories about her past. Look at her pictures. Weep with her. Pray
    with her. Weep with her husband after she dies.

    That kid down the block whose dad just died – take him fishing or to a ball
    game. Buy him a soda and some chips. Find out what he likes to do and
    go with him. Sit with the widow and listen to her stories. When she
    goes to the bathroom to pee, stick some cash behind the sugar canister
    in the kitchen because you know she’s having trouble paying the power
    bill. When she finds it she’ll wonder where it came from.

    Go to a poor neighborhood and clean the park or the street or the
    alley. When someone asks you why you’re doing it, tell them “to show
    the love of Jesus to the neighborhood”. Take your aluminum cans along
    with you and drop some by a bush when you see the homeless guy coming
    who picks up aluminum and sells it.

    When your neighbor gets really pissed with you because your tree hangs
    over the fence or because you were running the lawnmower when they were
    trying to sleep, apologize and take them a batch of fresh homemade
    cookies.”

    I understand that this does not look like Jesus or church for some people. I love a soaring ceiling painted by Michelangelo, great choirs, chanting monks, stained glass windows, wonderful prayers, inspiring music and inspiring sermons. These things remind me of Jesus. But when I’m ready to walk alongside Jesus I take to the streets, find people where they are and in the process run into Jesus. For me, that is church distilled to its very essence.

    Reply
  • 1. putting in-the-flesh relationships first. above programming, gatherings, websites, practicalities, budgets, strategies, and everything else for that matter….LOVE this. As usual, a really good post, PK.

    Reply
  • Hmm… Kathy, that sounds like the place of safety I’ve been looking for my whole life. Haven’t found it yet (although it sounds like you guys come pretty darn close over there). Congratulations on the book! Let me know when it is done. I DEFINITELY want a copy. 🙂

    Reply
  • els – i think you’re right, it shouldn’t be crazy to be ourselves & hang out with people we live next door to and let them know we’re real people just like them. imagine that, just real people being honest about real things 🙂 thanks for the book love, too. i’m excited.

    sam – so beautiful..really, sam, everytime you write i think the same thing that you said at the beginning of your comment–yes! yes! yes!

    tammy
    – glad you are part of the not-so-craziness

    katherine
    – oh we have our share of issues, that’s for sure, but i am thankful that these things are embedded into our life together. nutty, but oh so beautiful too. i really look forward to the time you can come hang out!

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *