December 21, 2008

church / culture / life

My wife generally likes Christmas music, and Christmas movies, and all that stuff. This year she hasn’t been into those things as much, but typically this is the case. Even this year, she has been listening to Christmas music in the car. One of the stations in Atlanta that plays Christmas music, of course, is the Christian radio station.

Personally, I don’t listen to the radio. I love, but have no interest in normal radio stations. So, Christian radio is an abnormal experience for me.

From time to time, they play commercials for the station, of course. The station describes itself, in great detail and with many illustrations, as “safe for the whole family.”

In a related circumstance, I was having a conversation about nonviolence with someone I know, and the normal argument of “if my family was being attacked…” came into the dialogue. This person stated that a Christian has to follow the God-given responsibility to keep his or her family safe.

Christian radio: safe for the whole family. God-given Christian responsibility: keep your family safe. To the point that it’s okay to use violence against those who might hurt you.

Scripture never tells the people of God that they will be safe, or that they should strive to be safe, or that loving one’s enemies is overridden by the need to be safe. Jesus constantly gets himself into trouble, and he gets his followers into trouble. They are ridiculed, beaten, imprisoned, and killed for the first three centuries of the church because their allegiance goes beyond family, beyond nations, and beyond politics. It is only once they have given up the Spirit and the Cross that Christianity becomes safe, and that’s because it has the sword on its side.

But then I realized how safe my own life is. I still sit, in many ways, in complacent safety.

When I was in college, I was introduced to the music of Jason Upton, through a live recording. In one of the songs, he is spontaneously singing, and he says this:

‘Lord I want to be so holy’, I used to say
And he’d say, ‘Tell me why. Is it so you can fly
In front of your friends and tell them how bad they are?’
And he said to me, ‘Jason if you’d just make your life a little bit more risky
You wouldn’t have to strive so hard
Following me
But your life is so safe. Your life is so safe. Your life is so safe.’

These words convict me every time I listen to them, and they tell me different things about my life every time I listen to them. Lately they have been shouting at me, and I can’t wait to see where they lead. As they have been speaking, others have also been speaking. Advent has been speaking. The Irresistible Revolution has been speaking. Jesus Wants to Save Christians has been speaking. Peter Rollins has been speaking. New friends have been speaking. I want to listen.

I am looking for something more than talking and reading and listening, and that is all I’ve been doing, recently.