Friday, December 19, 2008

Iron Sharpens Iron

Here's an idea to keep you honest:

Make a really close friend whose worldview is totally opposed to your own and who isn't afraid to say so, and with whom you aren't afraid to disagree either.

I don't know that it's possible to go out and intentionally do this, but I would just say that if you find yourself in this position, you might want to consider thanking God for it and learning from Him in it, instead of running away from it like I tried to do that time (and sometimes keep trying to do). Particularly if you have been intentional about finding people who do share your worldview and can make sure you're not running off the rails somewhere.

The Milk Guy's really good at calling my bluff. I don't get to start sounding all super-spiritual without having to think about what I'm saying, and if I really mean it, and if I even begin to live up to it. And every once in a while he'll come up with a zinger of a theological insight that will set me on my heels.

This week has, as I keep mentioning, been a little rough for me, and actually the weeks leading up to it haven't been exactly stress-free, either, as we at Starbucks scramble to get enough work hours to support ourselves, for example. This kind of scenario makes me grumpy and weepy and I start making up new rude words out of existing rude words and find, to my chagrin, that I am kind of delighted with them because they are clever, even if thoroughly inappropriate for a Christian. (The Milk Guy doesn't help with that so much, because he thinks they're clever, too, and has no such scruples.)

The thing about all that is that though it doesn't make me look--or feel--very good, I don't get to make excuses for myself, like I might if I were going to go to a prayer meeting that night and rehash the day in Evangelese to my friends. The Milk Guy sees my moods and reactions in all their un-glory, and there's no explaining away with him.

It's kind of a lot of pressure. And sometimes I feel like I'm making a complete hash of reflecting Christ to anybody, let alone him. (And . . . I probably am.) But he doesn't let me wallow in "I'm such a horrible Christian" mode either. Recently I said, "I feel like God's trying to communicate with you . . . but He sure could have picked a whole lot better representative . . ."

The Milk Guy paused (understandably, as I think about it), and then said, "Aren't you kind of making yourself out to be more powerful than God when you say that?"

Oh. Right. And so we keep talking. And so he challenges me and I appreciate that, and I remember from time to time that not only am I not the perfect representative of Christ on earth, but that I don't have to be--because, as the Milk Guy himself reminded me whether he meant to or not, God is God and He'll cause whatever transformations He sees fit. Including in me.


Scott R. Davis said...

well thought out in how you communicated the truths. And God chose some unusual people in the 1st century to carry out his message. And still does today. The coffee barrista is the modern day version of the fisherman!!!!

peace to you as you reflect Christ as his disciple.

Jeff said...

Another thing I like about people who don't share my world view, is not only do I have to be authentic, but I also can't take the short cuts of speaking in Christianese. When I'm around other Christians and I spout Christianese nonsense everybody nods knowingly and looks all spiritual about it; when I spout Christianese to non-Christians they squint there eyes and say "What?" And then I have to explain myself.

I actually find my blog to be an amazing place to dialogue with people different than me. It's not the same as having somebody in my life in real time, but on the other hand, in the last week, through the magic of the internet, I've had a college-aged agnostic living in Israel (and raised as a Jewish guy) an Orthodox middle-aged ish guy, as well as people a little closer to me geographically and idealogy all kicking around the same issues; that is awesome!

Jenn said...

Scott--I think it's more how OTHER people communicate God's truths to me that I'm mulling over, here. But thanks for your continued encouragement.

Jeff--that's awesome. I don't seem to have readers (at least who comment) who are quite as diverse as yours, but I do think the connexions one can forge on the internet are amazing, and I'm glad your blog is enabling you to dialogue like that!

And you're absolutely right about the Christianese. The funny thing is, when you're talking to Christians and try to NOT use Christianese, THEY are often the ones to squint and say, "What?" Don't you think? ;)

Jeff said...

You're absolutely right about the expectations that we use Christianese.
The irony is that I think we use it as a cover. We think that we're being "in the world and not of the world" when we use words Christianese. But in fact, we're doing exactly what worldly groups do: creating insiders and outsiders and abusing language in a way that allows us to figure out who the insiders are and outsiders are. Every single clique I can think of has expectations around how you use technical terms, from teen agers through lawyers. Technical terminology has some limited legitimate value, but in my experience it's 85% a power trip because other people don't know what you mean.

I hope it didn't seem like I was bragging about my blog. In truth the two I mentioned are just about the only two currently saying much of anything. I ultimately bumped into both by clicking around, and commenting on their blogs... There are some very good Christian bloggers who I don't think would have much of interest to non-Christians, but I think it wouldn't take much from you, as many of your posts are extremely relevant to nonbelievers and written in an even-handed way.

Jenn said...

Jeff--ack. I was afraid my response sounded squelching, as if I were accusing you of bragging. I really wasn't; I just didn't have the verbal prowess at the time to say how cool I thought that was, while yet admitting it hadn't yet happened on my blog much.

Anyway. I also agree with you about the power-play and the exclusivity, but I think it fairness it might be said that sometimes the power-play is unintentional. I think there are genuinely loving, well-meaning Christians who either don't know they're using lingo or who don't know any other way to talk about their faith, and they don't do it to be exclusive--those are just the words they have.

Jenn said...

And sometimes it might be sheer laziness, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

(The Milk Guy doesn't help with that so much, because he thinks they're clever, too, and has no such scruples.)
I think, perhaps, that as you make the reference to reflect your feelings that 'dicktacular' is inappropriate for utterance in the context of proper 'Christian behavior', it might better be said that I have no such ideological/theological hindrances...maybe.

I point it out only to continue our contest of wordsmanship.
Although in deference to your scruples, let's go with wordspersonship...

Jenn said...

Anonymous Milk Guy--maybe. Probably, even. ;)

See what I mean, everybody?

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