Lord, I've never been accused of being a "visionary." I know a few people who are, and, quite frankly, the concept scares me. I like being an implementer. I like putting feet to other people's visions. I like smoothing out the wrinkles and putting the jigsaw pieces together until I can see the landscape on the table.
So, this particular section of 11 didn't appeal to me at all the first time I read it. But it keeps pulling at me. I keep going back & re-reading it. Are you showing me something new about myself? Are you showing me a "vision" of what you want me to become?
Chapter 5 says the Church has been left-brained for a long time. Without imagination. Trying to reach a world that is increasingly becoming right-brained depending upon & longing for inventiveness, empathy, meaning, creativity & imagination-CHANGE. Mr. Sweet says that "Faith is the art of imagining." He says the power behind Creation was Your imagination. He points to Matthew 5:47 where Jesus asks His disciples, "What do you more than others?"
Then he launches an explanation of Jesus' use of the word more as His question echos through the ages.
Through the centuries since Jesus spoke those words more has had 2 meanings. More can mean "better," or more can mean "different." Don't give up on me here, Lord. My thoughts are rambling a little, but I really am going somewhere with this.
Sweet says that we Western Christians for centuries have interpreted more to mean bigger, better, faster, smarter, with added value, improved, specialized, fitted into a niche. This has been the definition filtered through our culture. I look around at our lives defined by commercialism & materialism & I can see that is true. I'm thinking that the Western Church has been defined by our culture instead of the Church changing culture.
He then says that Jesus could have used the word more to mean "different." Could He not be telling us Christians, Western & global, to be living our lives, proclaiming our message, building His Church not "better" than the world lives and proclaims and builds, but "different" from the world? Rather than continuing to do the same things the same way could Jesus be telling us to break the mold? To step outside our comfortable box, to embrace change instead of running from it like I do?
I don't especially like change, Lord. You know that. I'm snuggled in nicely to the status quo.
But these words sting me, prick my heart: "If truth be told, Christians don't so much live 'better' than others. We live 'different.' The Greek word we translate as 'repentance' is metanoia, which literally means 'change your mind.'... our mission is not so much to create a 'better world' [here] as it is a 'different world.' In a world that prides itself in its love of force, difference yourself: Be known for imagining the force of love....I ask you: When you come to the top of the ladder, when you come to the top step in that ladder of 'better,' what's the next one? A leap into the unknown. Even the ladder makes us step out in faith."(page 88-89)
I think You've been etching this into my heart for some time, Lord.
Instead of the love of force...the force of love.
Instead of loving things...doing things out of love.
Instead of reaching for success...reaching out to others.
Instead of following rituals...leading people by the hand to Christ.
Instead of adorning the Church with steeples & stained glass...adorning our lives with good works
Instead of fighting for my piece of the pie...being broken bread for the World.
Instead of screaming for my rights...being silent like the Lamb led to slaughter.
Instead of throwing the first punch...turning the other cheek.
The more I ponder these words in 11 the more they sound like Your Words when You wore flesh and walked in dust. Stop struggling to be "more-better" and surrender to be "more-different."
Open your Bible to Titus 2, Little One. Read about being more. Read about being "different", revolutionary in your slice of Time. Read about standing out from the culture of your corner of the World. Read about being My peculiar people. Have you looked that word up yet? I know how you are about that Greek & Hebrew Lexicon you have. In Titus 2 that word peculiar means "beyond unusual, special."
Selah. Think about that.