Okay. I admit it. I ate Chick-fil-a. Not yesterday for CFA appreciation day, but the night before. I like CFA, the companies desire to stand for biblical values and the food they provide. Granted, I shouldn’t have eaten it the other night, especially with that cookies and cream milkshake. D’oh! But my step-son offered….I hope you won’t judge me too harshly….
Mr. Cathy believes he is sincere in his belief regarding traditional marriage and family. He also has the freedom to express those beliefs. I will not deny him that. Some may see him and his support of certain groups as bigoted. But I wonder if he knows any gay people?
Likewise, those calling for a boycott of CFA have the freedom to do so. Boycott, schmoycott. This has the appearance to many of the sincere believing Christians of self-righteousness. We are tolerant, open, affirming, progressive, politically correct and on and on. I wonder how many of these folk would be willing to engage in civil dialogue with a conservative Christian like Mr. Cathy?
This is the point where I need to call BS. Both groups are talking past each other, jumping to conclusions, making assumptions (which makes an a…never mind). Where has civility gone? Buying a chicken sandwich from CFA does not make you righteous. Christ only does that. Boycotting a company over freely expressed opinions does not make you more enlightened. Only Christ can bring the light. Both are blinded by the two-headed monster of right and truth. This is monstrous when separated from the love of God. Screaming shrilly at each other “I’m right, you’re wrong!” without listening is not loving. Hollering “I stand for truth, you embrace the false!” without seeing the other shows no grace. We are called to love our neighbors, even enemies, yet we can’t even have a civil conversation about gays, marriage and family.
Both sides have hypocrisy regarding freedom of speech and self-righteousness seeping into their attitudes. Both claim to have biblical responses. Both are broken and in need of redemption. Christ is the redeemer and mediator, He alone is the source of reconciliation. Even when it’s a political opponent. Even when they are gay or straight. Even when they are conservative or liberal. Rich or poor. Whatever we can think of that divides us as a human race, Christ can restore and bring healing.
All I see in this division is the work and opinion of men. I see agendas. Jesus prayed for the unity of the disciples, then and now. I believe that prayer is answered. Embracing the divisions we create means holding onto the brokenness of our human situation at the expense of the finished work of Christ. In effect we say the cross is not enough and neither is the resurrection for us to love our neighbor (or enemy). Jesus died and rose again so we could boycott/support a chicken sandwich shop? The Kingdom is so much bigger than this….Then again, Jesus loves the bigoted pinhead and the self-righteous progressive just the same. That fact should change the tone of this diatribe, on both sides. Hopefully the reality of God’s love for us, in all its freedom, wildness and grace, will shatter us and allow a new way of living to emerge.
They will know we are Christians by our….ability to buy a chicken sammich? No, that’s not it …our ability to boycott a company with differing views? Nope, wait I remember, our love. Lately we have not been very patient or kind. I hope and pray we can put this behind and embrace the love of God found in Christ. The beauty of that could change the world….
John O’Keefe’s latest, The Church Creative, is a welcome addition to the growing titles seeking to address the changing culture with the message of Christ and how the church can change to effectively share that message. About a year ago, I read Boneyard: creatives will change how we lead in the church and found his distinctions of industrial and conceptual approaches most helpful, i.e., I also recommend that book. Much of what John spoke of, the qualities of creatives, in Boneyard resonated with me. I am a creative engaged in drawing, painting and woodturning yet my leadership in churches has been limited or at least not in the forefront. When I heard that John was writing a book titled, The Church Creative, I looked forward to reading it.
Like Boneyard, The Church Creative, asks the questions that need to be asked of churches in America today. Granted the questions will not sit well with some (or most) but those gatherings seeking to move beyond the status quo will benefit by working through the questions raised. I knew this book would start well when I saw the Celtic goose (wild goose) at the top of the table of contents. The wild goose was a symbol of the Holy Spirit among the Celtic Christians. The story has it, the wild goose is unpredictable in its flight much like the work (and leading) of the Holy Spirit. I believe John’s work here touches on the work the Spirit is doing among gatherings of Christ followers. He invites the (often uncomfortable) questions that will lead followers of Christ and those gatherings to see what the Spirit is already doing and allows for the church to participate in that work. Like anyone writing of creative and organic approaches to church life and ministry, this will not look like church as usual. It might even be the church as unusual, but nevertheless seeking to be and express the Body of Christ.
John also addresses early on the need for the creativity to expand beyond the typical approaches of churches toward creatives. Any mention of music leads to the worship team and any mention of drawing or painting leads to restrained (trite?) murals or illustrations for the church news letter. This type of response by church leadership toward creatives does neither any good, for church or local community. Instead of limiting creatives to the typical, he calls for leadership to release them and learn from them.
Throughout the book, John touches on the creative process and creatives, those who create, be it prose, poetry, paintings, sculpture or song. Creativity and those who embody that way of seeing the world, can be beneficial to the mission of the church. The creatives will see things from a different perspective, provide different answers to problems, connect dots that look like they could not be connected. Part of the creative process is working with certain limits, framing limits if you will. The limits of canvas size, medium, length of poem or story, style, meter, material and so on. The other part for the creative is pushing against those limits in such a way that truth and beauty are revealed or even the ugliness and brokenness of the world is exposed and calls one to do something. John encourages those gatherings seeking creative engagement, internally and externally, to embrace the tension of creativity and not fear failure. Fear of failure may be one of the greatest hindrances to creative life. All it takes is one thinking, ‘What if it doesn’t work?’ or ‘What if no one likes it?’ These are the wrong types of ‘what ifs’ to focus on. Courage and boldness are needed among the gathering of followers of Christ. Stepping out in faith-filled creativity may lead one on a wild goose chase, yet when the wild goose is the Spirit of the Living God, no telling where the adventure may lead.