It is four o'clock on a Wednesday morning and I am sitting here listening to Enya on my ipod thinking about the subject matter of this post. After playing far more Tetris Battle on facebook than I would ever really like to admit to the public, I thought that I should get these thoughts down because ideas never keep until morning.
How perfect an intro that is on a post about being a loser.
Tonight ( or yesterday ) I was at a bible study with a riotous crowd of two ( myself included) and "the group" compiled some things that I have had rolling around in the back of my mind for a little bit. ( thanks Scott)
We're funny people in the church in the sense that we're called out of the world, but still we struggle to fit the world within our theology or philosophy or faith. In my head I see a pyramid, as best as I can describe it, that represents who we want to be. At the bottom you have all your blue collar drones slinging burgers or washing windows and the higher up you go, the more you seem to have it all together. Up near the top you got your suits in the penthouse that drive cars that have hood ornaments that cost more than a black market kidney. Everyone on the bottom wants to be up higher. They want the image. The money. The status.
They want to have it all together.
Then we come into faith. We are called out of the world to be set apart. We call on God for salvation and then what?
More often than not, we keep that mindset that we had about the world. We want to play the game of holiness. At the bottom of the pyramid here are the people with all kinds of problems in their life. Maybe new Christians and what not. These guys make up the lower rung and the higher you go up the pyramid you get to the veteran church goer that has things together. Faith to this guy seems like a reflex. Then at the top is the pastor. This guy is a spiritual power house who has all the answers. in our minds we think this guy just prays and read the bible all day and he has the spiritual Bat Signal to God. We want to be this guy because everyone comes to him for advice. They wanna spend time with him so that they might catch holy... Or that if maybe this guy sees how good we are, we can feel better about ourselves.
I laughed out loud at several points when I wrote that paragraph. I laughed because I used to think that stuff. I didn't see it for what it was at the time, but in retrospection this is it in its simplest form. We hate being on the bottom rung because bottom rung guys are all grunts. Nobody want to be the grunt. Grunts are losers.
Now I've been in the church for a while and I tell you the only reason I could see all this is because I did it all wrong. I wanted to be on top and I fought to get there and I boasted about how much better I could do it and blah blah blah blaaaah blah. When I got into a position of authority, God showed me something. Something so basic. Something so simple.
What it means to lead, is to lose everything for those that follow.
I used to see it, again like a pyramid... where you had the church at the bottom, then the staff, then the pastor and above the pastor is God.
Its actually backwards. It's God, then the pastor, and then the staff, and then the church.
You lead from the bottom. It isn't glamorous. It isn't glorious. It isn't the fancy suits.
It isn't about being in command, its about taking orders. It is about helping people out of there afflictions, or laying down and suffering with them if you can't. Helping to carry another's burden. It wasn't until I saw this that I finally REALLY understood the scripture that says
"who ever seeks to save his life will lose it, who ever loses his life for my sake will gain it"
If we are pushing our way up that pyramid because we want more comfort... then we are all focused on us, Not him, and certainly not his kingdom.
It wasn't until this moment that I realized the shepherding metaphors were speaking of this.
The shepheard that looks after his flock doesn't get out in front and say " All right, everyone, eyes here. I got this. look at me. I am now going to walk. Everyone walk like me. Single file. Lets go. "
He leads from behind them, stepping in the crap.
When I thought I had it all together is when I realize how proud I was. How off I was. I realized how much I needed to lose. I'm still daily trying to process what I need to leave behind, and go out and serve.
We have a tendency to look at the people in the bible like they are super heroes of faith. Like these guys are famous because they never sinned. They all have sparking resumes and you should trust them all with your daughters. We want to be remembered like that. Immortalized in some sort of legend where some courageous act of faith took place, or there was an astounding miracle because of how good we are or how much holier we appear. We look at these people and we think to ourselves that we have to hide our sins so that we might measure up to them.... the irony is that we don't read their stories and see that we're right there with them.
Look at David. The guy is rolling the A list celeb. status in his day as people are singing about how he's killed hundreds of thousands. Then God takes him on a jungle safari so that he doesn't die at the hands of a jealous king who wants to be top dawg. David refuses to take him on. Yadda yadda yadda, Then there is balance to the force, God makes Dave klng, and he goes for the women (granted it was one woman, but the point stands). Later His son thinks he's got it all together. That he's the man now. Figures Who better to be king that himself. Gotta be top of that pyramid. That didn't end well for him. Spoiler alert... Absolom died.
I can't help but think about how Jesus said " The greatest amongst you is the least."
Then there is Paul. Think about this guy. He's all Harvard of Hebrew school, top of his game. Hebrew of Hebrews of the tribe of Benjamin. Hasn't done a single thing against the Law of God or the oral traditions.... .... ... except for the part where he was murdering people.
.... approvingly. If that doesn't sound like C.E.O. Material I don't know what does.
So God Mag lights his eyes and he's blind. He comes to the knowledge that even though he's got it all together, he doesn't really have squat. He decides to become a loser and spends the the next three years learning how all those people he's been killing for his belief of them violating God's commands, was really a major misnomer on his part.* He gives up his life and starts serving. He loses himself.
Samson. Big dog, forgets God, remembers God and loses his life for him. Loser.
We want huge things in our lives... but we try and make it happen.
We want miracles, but for all the wrong reasons. We ask for them not for His Glory and purpose... We ask for them so that we can run and tell all our church friends about it.
Not all the time, but a lot of the time.
We want God to move, and do something mighty , but we refuse to let him do it. We don't want to tarnish our image. We don't want others to think we aren't cool. We don't want to look crazy. we don't want to look hyper spiritual. We don't want to this. we don't want to that. We don't want.
We are the problem. not part of the solution.
Lose the image you are going for.
Lose the pride.
Lose the fear.
Lose the greed.
Lose the iron grip you have on steering your life
Lose it all....
... and Gain a better understanding of God.
... and Gain a greater love for your fellow man.
... and Gain humility.
... and Gain a refreshing perspective.
....and Gain a sense of identity in God.
Be a loser.
*This part make me think of the I. R. S. for some reason, but seeing as how its now 5 in the morning, i didn't feel like retooling the joke.