My friend Bill has told me several times that much of my life is reactionary. This blog is reactionary. My associations and friendships are often reactionary.
Most of what I’ve used to define myself is a reaction to the traditional Christianity—namely, Independent Baptist Fundamentalism—that I spent seventeen years of my life identifying with. I go to church wearing shorts and flip-flops because I grew up in a religious system that told me that I had to wear a jacket and necktie every Sunday.
I attend churches that use really loud alternative rock as their primary vehicle for worshipping God musically because I grew up in a religious system that taught me that rock music is inherently evil.
I make friends with people at bars and taverns because I grew up in a religious system that told me that going to those kinds of places is sinful.
Okay, to be totally honest, that’s not entirely true. I wear flip-flops because I really like them. I worship with alterna-rock because it’s the music style that speaks most clearly to me. And I hang out at taverns because I enjoy the taste of a good lager.
But do you see what I’m getting at? There’s a lot in my life that can easily be a reaction to the religion I grew up in.
And by reacting to that religious system, I’m creating a new religious system for myself instead of embracing the grace that Christ offers me daily.
How is reacting to a religious system creating a new religious system? In balking at the standards that were placed on me at my former church I created a new standard for what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus. And it wasn’t necessarily a biblical one.
A true follower of Jesus should look like this.
Not like this.
Or even this.
Being a missional community, to borrow once again from Bill, means going into the culture, speaking the language of the culture, in order to be a counter-culture for the culture. In other words, we as a Church should learn to contextualize in order to better reach the culture we find ourselves in.
And I’m beginning to believe that applies to the individual in a different way. Yes, I found it easy to embrace being missional in the culture I identify with (as mentioned above). But the question I face now is this: can I still apply a missional lifestyle if God called me to reach out to the people who are trapped in the religious system I came from?
Would I be able to lay aside the “look” I’ve created of a follower of Jesus in order to allow the people I’m called to reach a little bit of comfort?
Would I be able to contextualize by putting aside my love for rock, my love for beer, and my love for shorts and flip-flops in order to reach certain people with the gospel of Christ?