Last Wednesday I went to see Motherwell play Inverness Caledonia Thistle - Motherwell [my team] won :: 3 goal to 1... This would normally be good news for me... and don't get me wrong it was a pleasure to watch my team net 3 goals. Problem was... I was in the AWAY end with the Caley fans.
I got given 2 tickets for the game. I had offered the tickets to a ICT fan... but he couldn't make it. So I had a wee night out.
Only people who have sat with their opponent's supporters will know how hard it is to keep your cool when your team scores... sitting on your hands... biting your tongue... I hope you know what I mean?
I even got in on the act... the Caley goal was a belter and was one worthy of a wee celebration... you know, for the sake of footie and a' that.
Thing is... the whole experience got me thinking. It made me consider what it is like not to be part of the majority... not part of the dominate culture that surrounded me. I have always tried to live different... but this experience challenged me.
It challenged me because it reminded me of Daniel... Young Jewish chap... Exiled in a cosmopolitan country... in the heart of a impressive empire. Daniel stayed true to who he was... to his faith... and to his people. He didn't celebrate as those around him did... he didn't eat the food sacrificed to the god's of his captors... and he didn't bow down to the idol in the image of the king. He kept himself true... with God's help.
Sure I had chosen to do what I did... I wasn't captured or anything. I was there to enjoy the footie. Thing is though... I wasn't true to myself or my team... and I wasn't true when I celebrated Caley's success. I was seeking to fit in... become part... a social chameleon. Not willing to stick out... in fear, I suppose.
Please do not think for one moment that I was in any danger from the Caley fans. Nice bunch of folk. No worries there. I was more in fear of getting kicked out... you are not really meant to do what I did.
I was scared that by being me... I would lose out. Now you can appreciate where I am coming from.
As a follower of God in the way of Jesus... in this fantastic world that is brilliant in many ways but yet just isn't the way God intended it to be... just isn't the Kingdom of God... I am challenged by this.
Am I too engrossed in the culture that surrounds me? Am I an active participant in the suicide machine that Brian McLaren talks about in Everything Must Change? Consider this blog... music... tech... material stuff... am I an active contributor?
Olly and I bought a WII yesterday. Its for the family. For my kids as well as for my parents. Its a social tool and something we can use when exercising hospitality. Thing is... did we need one? No. Did we want? Oh yes.
Its the big ticket item... the flavour of the month... the thing to have... and we joined the gang. Thing is... this is one of many things I am scared to give up. If you consider the Prosperity System that McLaren speaks of... I am part of this. I like my stuff... I like my comforts -- the house... the iBook I am presently typing this post on... my iPod etc etc. I am part of this.
My desire to be part has made me a contributor and co-conspirator. I am part of the problem. I am a consumer who consumes things without proper consideration. I am gleefully cheering for the opposition when I should be supporting my own team.
Its all about culture relevance -- seeking... desiring... wanting to be part. Wanting to be relevant... to be cool... hip... bleeding edge. Again, consider this blog.
Is there anything different about me?
Jesus makes it clear that he doesn't want his disciples to be removed "out of the world". Instead, he sends them "into the world", but as they are "in" the world, they are not to be "of" the world, just as he is not "of" the world.Brian McLaren -- Everything Must Change -- p114
What does this mean? Well, to be honest, I don't fully know... in the context of what I have spoken about above.
I am "in" the world and... yes, at times, my thinking / behaviour is "of" the world... but I am learning what it means to be not "of" this world.
Learning Kingdom values where I put others before myself... where I repay evil with love... where I seek reconciliation instead of revenge... where I try to be content with what I have and am not boastful/proud/self-assured as a result of my stuff.
This goes against the very nature of the world. I agree I should live with less and seek to minimise my impact on creation... and this is a hard journey for me.
I remember Shane Claiborne speaking on relevancy... when I saw him in Glasgow last year... he said we should be in the world but peculiar to it. We shouldn't be so well adjusted that we happily cheer on the other team.
I do, however, believe we are given skills/passions and opportunities that we must use in our efforts to live God-centred lives and bring Kingdom values to this world. We are in this world and need to be relevant to those that we are called to be part of... but in doing so... we do not need to be "of" the world > we can think/act/live differently. We need to be relevant but peculiar. We need to serve God first and then the rest falls into place. We can have all the stuff we want... but as long as we serve God first... all the stuff and nonsense that we fill our lives with will become second best. Tools to be used by crafty insurgents of love... as a means to an end > that end is loving those around us... regardless as to whether they love us in return or not. Tools not held on too tightly.
I hope this makes sense? We need to stick out... act/think/live differently as we benefit from the freedom that comes from the grace of God. In doing so... we shine our small lights in this dark world.