Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Moon & worrying about others...

I love my wife and have happily embraced her latest obsession... I think its only fair considering how obsessed I am about stuff. If you haven't gathered already through tweets, facebook stati etc... she's been bitten (pun intended) by Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series of books and films.

And when I say obsessed... well... she read the books in record time... abandoning all but the essential tasks to devote herself to the four books in less than two weeks. It was impressive... and kind of scary.

We have posters in the computer room... one of Edward and one of the Cullen family. We do have an original “New Hope” poster in there to even things out... but even with Princess Leia in buns on the wall, I still feel Edward's eyes following me in the room.

I'm cool with this. Seriously... I'm a fan too. I'm so far the third book “Eclipse” and have enjoyed the fable. I have enjoyed the experience to date... enjoyed the films... loved the soundtrack to “New Moon”... good times!

For Olly.... Twilight is her Star Wars.

The thing is though... Olly is becoming defensive about the characters & the story. She will defend them like they are her dear friends... kind of like how I act when folk knock the Prequels (Jar Jar Binks ROCKS!!!).

She gets particularly upset about this whole “Team Edward vs Team Jacob” thing. To me its either completely childish or a cynical attempt by the film company to cash in on two handsome young lads. I don't get it... but then I'm not a hormonal mid-teen lassie.

The whole thing really winds Olly up. Seriously. We are talking homicidal. We are talking Bates Motel.

She gets so wound up because of the whole childish superficiality of it all... where people are only judging the surface and not appreciating the story for what it is. Whilst I haven't finished the third book yet... (you know me... slow reader!) even I get that this is about Bella & Edward... Jacob is a bit part. A very important bit part... but he's not Romeo... nor is he Luke.

So for folks to go “Team Jacob” is just plain silliness... unless its because you appreciate the buffness of the Taylor chap who plays Jacob. But if that's the case then why not “Team Taylor”? Oh wait... its because the producers wont make any money out of that!

Anyway... it got me thinking about my faith and my struggle with my spiritual identity.

I have gotten myself all wrapped up in the fact that some people within the Salvation Army (and the wider church) do not get what it means to be “saved to serve”... that their understanding of faith is so superficial and childish... based on the surface... on what they can “get” from God.

I get really upset when I see people identify with Christ in words only or when they consider they are “doing their bit” when in fact they are just serving their own pleasures and fragile vanities.

I get as riled as Olly with the whole “Team Jacob” thing.

When I consider the legalism that floods our movement or when I contemplate the total arrogance of the prosperity Gospel that is creeping in... my blood boils!

The Salvation Army is a movement based wholly on the grace of God... and we have taken our eyes off His greatest gift. We have become an group of people so wrapped up in externalities... in appearance... in our “uniform”... that we have lost the plot. We consider performance as service when all around us the hungry go unfed... and the very things our Founder lost sleep over continues. Preservation of what we have is seen to be virtuous where as apostolic expansion and risktaking is confined to the slow death of committees & bureaucracy.

I can see through the silliness... through the self-serving egotism... and I desperately want to shake the Army to its core... tell all that listen that there is another way... that there is this wonderful story of love and redemption that they can participate in... if only they would see beyond the veneer.

But this isn't the way.

I nearly let this frustration consume me... and overtake me. I nearly let it blind me... deafen me... desensitise me from God's Truth... I almost walked away.

But I didn't and I thank God I didn't because... I came to realise... through the reading of Scripture and the counsel of trusted friends that this is not the way.

A revolution is coming... but not a violent one. No one will be put against the wall and shot. For that is not The Way.

The Way of Jesus is like the mustard that patiently grows and takes all with it. It isn't dramatic... it is slow and deliberate.

It grows through love... encouragement... humility... food... patience... relationships... hope... interaction... joy... participation... trust... engagement... selflessness... & empowerment.

Especially love... for love is the foundation for all that is done in and for the name of Jesus... or should be!

As for the characteristics of its participants... they are resilience... diligence... self-control... as described by Paul in his second letter to Timothy...
“God's servant must not be argumentative, but a gentle listener and a teacher who keeps cool, working firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey. You never know how or when God might sober them up with a change of heart and a turning to the truth...”
This revolution will not be televised. It will spread through inspirational relationships and common kindness... with a loving touch & a powerful example of sacrifice.

The Way will be shown in this example... it will be all about doing as I do... leading by doing... each one leading one to a new way of life... a life lived in ALL its fulness... an eternal life.

I understand my role. I understand its no longer about shouting or judging or being angry. Its all about being loving and gracious and being an example. Its all about being salt that flavours and preserves... not stings when we are wounded.

Its all about keeping on keeping on... about persevering... about being an example... about wearing down those who don't get it with our love.

Let love be my spiritual identity. Let me be known for my love.

Now that is something worth worrying about.
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