Saturday, August 16, 2008

No Longer a Child

I was at a beautiful Irish pub in downtown Minneapolis, sharing a beautiful evening with my husband Matt. Neither of us are big drinkers, but a friend of his introduced him to Ace Pear Cider which he fell in love with. I rather enjoy it too. We asked for the Cider but unfortunately they did not have it. We asked for a suggestion from the waitress. She told us of a different cider which she then brought over right away. As she left I realized that she did not I.D. me or my husband! I am 25 and I have not been asked for I.D.! I was kind of bummed. Am I finally at the point in my twenties when waitresses no longer have to wonder about if I am legal drinking age or not? I suppose it was safe to assume that my husband and I were over 21, but it got me to thinking. I am no longer a teenager. I am in my mid twenties and 5 years from 30. Time is marching on with no regards to waiting for me.
I once heard a 20 something say that when he hit 30 he wanted to be able to look back on his 20’s and know that he did something significant; that his childhood dreams had materialized in someway or at least they had gotten their start. At 25 what had I seriously accomplished that haunted me in my younger years and even college years? What commitments had I stayed true to? You 40 and 50 year olds that might be reading this right now are probably chuckling thinking I have my whole life to accomplish something; that at 25 I shouldn’t be so worried about not having made some mark in the world. I say that because I have gotten that reaction before. The thing is, I don’t just want life to happen to me, I want to go out and grab it and own it! Not in a way that is selfish or void of my God, but in the respect that I know what it is I am supposed to do in the world; therefore, I go and do it! Simple enough it would seem however, harder than I ever thought.
You only get one shot at this thing called life and I refuse to have an ordinary one. Not that ordinary is bad, but it is certainly not for me. That train of thought it what got me started in the first place. What does extraordinary look like for a 25 year Christian, charismatic, woman in the 21st century? More importantly what should it look like? My peers claim a postmodern outlook. After all, that is what historians have called our generation; Unitarian, Universal, Ecumenical and Accepting. Although postmodernity is this “cool” buzzword that has been claimed over my age group, I am not apart of any such category. Postmodernity means that one does not believe in any great Metanarrative or overarching story of life. There is no great structure to the cosmos and everyone creates their own truth.
I have seen churches claim postmodernity in their valiant attempts in being relevant. Unfortunately, watering down the strong message of Christ is the process. There have also been churches that have done the absolute opposite by completely retreating to fundamental conservativism, isolating them while sending a harsh message of intolerance and condemnation. I have been grieved by both pendulum swings. There has to be something in between that gets it right. Jesus got it right. He was so relevant and personal, yet extremely subversive. There are few that can achieve that combination. Yet somehow, thank God, the Holy Spirit works through all our mess ups.
Do you ever notice how all the bad stuff about Christianity always gets the press?! Any kind of scandal or heresy always makes the evening news and morning headlines. Yet the reality of God that is happening all around the world never breaks through the air waves. I can turn on the television and see a preacher asking for $1,000 faith pledges any time of the day, but why can’t I hear a about a person being raised from the dead in Africa? Or the hungry being fed in Brazil? Or a brothel being busted up in India? Being a Christian, I think, is harder than ever. Or I should say being an evangelistic Christian is harder than ever. You have no idea the “Christians” other people have met before you. You have no idea the lies they have heard or the hurts they have experienced. They have already formulated their very strong and bitter opinions of you and your God. It is only through the work of the Holy Spirit that their ideas can be deconstructed and reconstructed. There has got to be a way to be relevant yet subversive.
A theology teacher of mine one posed the question first asked by Dietrich Bonhoeffer; “What is the difference between a humanitarian and a Christian?” I thought it was a very good and interesting question. What is the difference? One of the things I am most proud of my generation for doing is asking the question, “How can we help?” We are very concerned with the social justice piece. Not to mention the fact that, aside from the love of God, it is the most talked about issue and mandate in Scripture. We have seen the fruitlessness of harping on the abortion doctors and gay marriage supporters. What are we doing to help those in need within our communities and all around the world? However, anyone can do that; Not that it diminishes its significance and not that the Bible doesn’t say that the world will know the disciples of Jesus by their love for others. But as for me, I want to be able to feed the homeless man on the street, give him a shirt to wear and see his lame leg be healed in the name of Jesus Christ! I would say that is the difference. It is the supernatural piece. I yearn for it and am desperate for it. I know God can do it; He has done it and is doing it still.
So, at 25, that is what I long for. I am not content for it just to happen at some point in my life, nor is it something I will put on my “to do” list for when I am older. Time means lives and I don’t want to see anymore lost. At 25 I am finally starting to understand what N.T. Wright says about our world: “It is achingly beautiful and awesomely ugly[1].” I live in that tension everyday, as I’m sure many of you do as well; the beauty of God vs. the ugliness of the evil in this world. I suppose that is part of what Jesus meant when He talked about living in the world though we are not of it. Relevant, yet subversive.
Cider served at a pub without asking for an I.D., looking towards 30, what will my 20’s have been to God, the world and me?

[1] Wright, N.T. “The Bible and the Christian Imagination.” Lecture at Seatle Pacific University, 2005/05/19. Presents God's calling to creativity and the arts in the Christian community. President's Symposium on the Gospel and Cultural Engagement.

1 comment:

her best friend said...

ri. u so eloquently put into words what each of us question every day of our lives. who am i? and what am i doing? so often we look outside of ourselves to other people "doin it big"...preachers, businessmen (woman ;), professors, doctors, etc...and we try to picture ourselves in those roles. then we compare our lives to who we think we should be, and the result is overwhelming. we feel inadequate!! but you bring us back to this place of organic development. a holy spirit inspired life that doesn't have to fit a mold, but is a continual process...bearing fruit and causing us to trust him!! meanwhile others see the fruit in our lives and are drawn to Him...cause we're real. we haven't become another cookie cutter christian...we're authentic, we're transparent, and we're lovin life! so even if we end up in one of those "occupations" or whatever, it's not out of obligation or the necessity to be somebody, but it's a place of influence provided for greater restoration on the earth!!