Do not misunderstand, I did not decide one day to be an agitator stirring the proverbial pot of stagnate thought and rancid understandings. Long ago I did not draw the conclusion that, when I grow up, I want to aggravate and agitate the church (or whomever I happen to be irritating at the time). Hey! As long as I could be married, I would easily conform to the life of a monk. If it were up to me I would mind my own business; after all, I only want to be left alone to imagine God and speculate upon His logic. I could socially respond to humanity via the Internet; I could interact via email and text messages. But alas, what I am in my flesh does not align with what I am called to be in spirit.
I was a part of two distinct groups last week, each polarized from the other not only in experience, but also outcome. The First: Four days of separation and seclusion with a dozen others in a “church setting.” Cloaked in the appearance of the divine, the experience reeked of the putrefaction of the flesh. I do not claim to speak for the others present nor do I wish to project my experience onto others, I desire only to share my point of view (with the previous paragraph as a qualifier for it). If it were up to me, I would have simply kept my mouth shut, nodded in agreement, and rode out the four days relatively unscathed. But no! In the Form of the Crucifixion, my flesh is subdued and what I am called to be in the spirit is enlivened. Of all the parts of the Body God could have made me… I am the butt. Aggravation and agitation are gifts in the hands of God (I reckon!). The facilitator of the week exclaimed (AT me) at one point: “I have never before experienced push-back like this!” I will not divulge the gory details of the explosive atmosphere, but to pose a series of questions that I beg: Why do I have to think like you? Why does a “Christian” have to look, smell, walk, and talk, etc. like you? Why does “Christianity” look so conveniently like a particular culture? Who has decided that you, particularly, set the tone for what Christ is doing? How many people are alienated by your “Us vs. Them; the Church vs. the World” mentality? Again, it was not my flesh in this fight, this war, for my flesh would have rode off into the sunset without a second thought. I left the event physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted. I have warred behind enemy lines before, but this was like entering the battle through the mouth of the religious beast.
The second group: Three days of immersion and inclusion with a half-dozen brothers (when I say “brothers” I mean bikers, though they are my brothers in Christ as well). We were in “the world” (as the former group saw it) at the Annual Outer Banks Bike Week. We “fellowshipped” and “worshipped,” had “accountability” and held one another “responsible” for one-self and to the group, and we “expressed Christ” to a hurting world (both verbally and in actions). We built up one another and helped one another, and we built up and helped others who were not a part of our “group.” At one point we had a local woman (on a bicycle) approach us and express how glad she was that we were there and wished us well. As far as I know I was not the butt of the Body, here. Though I might have been, it wasn’t out of calling as before. I left this event physically tired (in a good, hard work kind-of way), but mentally and spiritually revived. My line of questioning, and subsequent answers are as follows: Why can’t the church be this way? Oh! It is, just not the religious kind. Why does Christianity have to be a single culture? Oh! It doesn’t! It is simply religion that self-imposes its culture. Why does it have to be an “Us vs. Them” proposition? Oh! It doesn’t! Church is both, so-called “secular” and so-called “sacred.” Why do Christians have to think, look, smell, walk, and talk, etc. the same? Oh! It is only the religious normative that has dictated the accepted ethos, pushing The Faith to the margins and pushing others out-of-doors. I have discovered that, when faced with religion, my flesh is crucified and my spiritual calling is to be the butt in the life of the Resurrected Body of Christ. But when I am among the marginalized, my flesh is crucified and my calling is to express the love of the Resurrected Body of Christ. I guess, in light of my last experience, I’m glad I’m not a monk; unless it were some kind of biker order!