Monday, December 18, 2006

Distinctive Discipleship

Four generations: My mom, My little sis and her twin daughter Elliot, and my grandmother. My uncle's blog further captures some of the neat experiences of Elliot and Keaton's first major, extended family gathering, along with more great pictures. I know it had to be a special time for everyone back home.
Saturday night, we were blessed with a memory-making opportunity for our girls at the Fresno State/Creighton basketball game. Our seats, thanks to the generosity of the Avedikians, were court side and during a second-half timeout, the cheerleaders invited our girls, along with some other children seated near the arena floor, out onto the court to perform with the cheerleaders. It was one of those, "Man, I wish we had our camera right now!" moments.
As the arena sound system played the jazzed up Cotton-Eyes Joe, Trae boogied with one of the cheerleaders. Tori, on the other hand, was held by one of the cheerleaders. All she wanted to do was shake one of the cheerleaders' pom-pons, which she got to do.
If I get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome soon, you'll be able to trace its origin to email responses from my last two blogs, weighing in on the tension of church and culture and the Richland Hills decision. Those two blogs evidently generated a lot of thought and reflection among my readers, evidenced by the mass of emails I've received. 95% have been overwhelmingly positive; 5% have taken me to task.
I want you to know I appreciate every email and the opportunity for dialogue. It's helpful to revisit and rethink critical issues of Scripture and heritage. As I shared with our church last night, "The Word of God is living and active and we, as humans, are living and active and study of the Word is a lifelong endeavor." I weary of arguments that have collected dust -- evidence of a life in which the Word has been shelved and conclusions/opinions settled long ago. Revisiting and rethinking conclusions we might have long ago reached is a good thing, provided the on-going effort is rooted and bound in Scripture.
The emails I've received have run the gamut. Some have said, "Jim, you're right on." Others have said, "Jim, you're too liberal. Why don't you come down harder on this?" And still others have said, "Jim, you're too conservative and old-fashioned. Your thinking is out-of-date and out-of-touch with the times."
Is it just me or do the "labels" we attach to people and their stances on Scripture get a little wearisome?
If I must wear a label, the label I most desire is disciple of Jesus Christ, nothing more and nothing less. I want to be distinctive, but I don't want my distinctiveness defined by my conclusions on Scripture. I want my distinctiveness to be defined by my life. I want to be salt and light in this world, one of the called out, devoted to holiness and Christ-likeness. I want to stand out in the crowd, not because of what I believe but because of who I believe and follow. I want to be so devoted as a Christ-follower to the ethic of Jesus (see Matthew 5-7) that my life becomes a flash point for others around me. I want to live my life as a reflection of Jesus so that others might seek and inquire of the hope that I have, providing an open door of opportunity to share the life-transforming good news of Jesus.