05 August 2012

What is an Alternative Story?

fishers“Neither revolution nor reformation can ultimately change a society, rather you must tell a new powerful tale, one so persuasive that it sweeps away the old myths and becomes the preferred story, one so inclusive that it gathers all the bits of our past and our present into a coherent whole, one that even shines some light into our future so that we can take the next step…If you want to change a society, then you have to tell an alternative story.”

--Ivan Illich


An alternative story

What does an alternative story for the church look like? I think it encompasses three concepts:

1. Jesus said “Seek first the kingdom of God” (-- Why do you call me Lord?)


seekOur entry and journey to the father through the son by the power of the spirit is summed up in this phrase: "Seek first the kingdom of God." God desires us to join in fellowship with him, to experience the trinity in fellowship with him as well as with each other.

What does it mean to seek?
What is the kingdom of God?

How do we find it in the noise and bluster of life? How did we make something so great and grand so oblivious to others?

And how do we allow the seed and the leaven to grow and overtake the world?

We can't make it grow, we can't force it to grow, we have to do what we are called to do and let it do what it is designed to do on its own.

The caveat is the question Jesus asked in Luke 6:46:

"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?"

The first part is important. What does it mean to call Jesus "Lord"? What does that look like in our day to day lives?

What does Jesus mean when he asks:

"...and not do what I say?"

What are the implications for us. For Grenoble, for the Romani, and so on? How do we speak, live and incarnate the message to others?


2. Jesus said “go into all the world and make disciples of everyone” We tend to think that this means "go and share the four spiritual laws" with everyone.


go-all the worldAccording to the parallel passages Matthew, Mark, John and Luke, this is the beginning of our task. Following McKnight and Wright, we see that growing disciples is the "rest of the story," the part we miss. It is more than getting our ticket validated and waiting for our train or flight. This refers us to the next point: "follow me."


3. Jesus said “follow me”


Follow-me-LeftWhat did this call mean for Simon, John, Matthew, et. al. to follow Jesus? It seems to mean more than "follow Jesus" in your spare time, or, as a supplement to your everyday life so that you can fill in the blanks where stuff is missing.

Rather, it is a radical call, and he calls for a radical change in the direction and the way they lives their lives. It is a call to vocation (a vocation is about the gifts and talents that God gives us to orient us toward specific purposes and a way of life; not what we do for a living). What was involved in "follow me"? They had on the job training --on the fly. They watched him, he gave them tasks, learning experiences, etc. If that is the case, then what does that mean for us? As my friend Max shared, it's about inviting people to participate in the kingdom (following Christ is not a spectator sport). We need to put them to work in the kingdom, help them (and us) to figure out their gifts, throw them in the lake if necessary, and see what happens.

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