Posts Tagged ‘faith’


Much has been made in recent times of the church’s need to understand embrace the strengths and ministry directions needed to include introverts. Much of Western church culture has been formed on the ideal of the extroverted pastor and church member. As an openly recognized and admitted introvert this has felt like welcome acceptance and vindication. All this being said though, I’ve been thinking lately if just the ecclesiology of the church being readjusted to include space for the quiet and thoughtful goes far enough. What if our very understanding of the gospel itself has become so culturally bound to an extroverted relational way of understanding that we need to re-evaluate that as well? Is there room in our understanding and explanation of the gospel to make it meaningful for those who are introverted and task oriented rather than naturally relational?

The common way of explaining and understanding the gospel in Western Christianity often sounds something like this:

God is love and the parts of the trinity began in perfect relationship with each other. Out of love and God’s relational nature, he created humans in his image to be included in this love relationship with him. Humans at some point broke off this relationship through sin and God sought to reconcile that relationship through covenant relationships. Humans continually failed God and lacked the ability to  reconcile things through their works, and as such God reached out to humanity in Jesus – coming in person to live amongst us. He came and lived out love and the message of forgiveness and reconciliation for creation with their creator. The greatest love of all was shown in Jesus willing death at the hands of those created in his image to in some way reconcile them with God. We now have hope for healed relationships with God and the rest of creation in this life and a life to come after death or when Jesus returns.
Now given this may not explain every denomination ‘s particulars and I’ve attempted to leave the details as broad as possible to include as many in the thoughts as possible, but I think this is a fair portrayal of the story. Relationship is good, tasks are insufficient at best and evil at worst.

Some of my thoughts and struggle with this came to a head a few months ago as I sat in church listening to a friend preaching and heard the message of, “Stop doing and stop trying to do anything to get God’s love. Just let yourself fall in love with the person of Jesus. (loosely quoted)” At that moment instead of feeling at peace and full of joy as the message was intended to do, I felt sad and helpless. I don’t disagree with the message in principle, but I wonder if there isn’t more to it than that. You see, I’m introverted and task oriented: I have little idea what to do with that message. Even in my most loving and intimate relationships everything is processed in the form of lists of things to do, to not do, and to work on getting better at. For me love does. There is always a next step to take, a plan to be made, a thing to do. Love is an action plan made with passion. To not work or seek towards doing something is to not love. This is the filter that everything has been processed through for me for as long as I can remember. Trying to conceive of relating to someone outside the context of task is confusing and borderline terrifying. When the task is clear the anxiety fades and life works. This doesn’t make the love any less real, it’s just a different frame of reference.

So, how can the gospel be explained in a way that is meaningful, and full of life, hope and love in this context?

I hope this gives you some things to ponder as you follow Jesus and share his gospel, and maybe even as you talk and think along with me. I have a number of more thoughts I plan on sharing and getting your input on hopefully in the weeks to come. I believe deeply in community hermeneutics, not just me figuring out alone with a bible in a broom closet. Is there a gospel for the task oriented?

I will admit that I have significant geek strains latent in my DNA that often unnoticed by the greater population.  I do not have a large comic book collection, do not frequent multiple message boards, and do not have an avatar on World of War Craft or Second Life.  I do however like to keep up to date on current nerd/geek news and read this post on today.

After reading the story about the p53 cancer assassin gene, I read their story/opinion piece on what causes superhero story lines to get bogged down in self-referencing and inside jokes.  While reading it I could not help but immediately starting to draw correlations between this story about comic book narratives and what churches often find themselves dealing with: going in the direction of insider language and references versus going in fresh new directions with regards to the gospel and church life.

To summarize the post the author, Charlie Jane Anders basically states that when it comes to the stories in comics authors have two basic directions they can go: to either reference old stories and characters that current fans love to keep them pacified and on-side or to start exploring new angles and story-arcs to expand upon the lore that already exists but at the risk of losing some old faithful fans that enjoy the stories and at the risk of just rolling out old ideas in a new barrel.  If a hero just keeps fighting the same enemies and rehashing old plot lines it keeps the faithful interested based on sentimentality, but after a while the old faithful are the only ones who can understand the story because it is expressed in so many layers of insider language.  There is a need for new areas of exploration to keep things fresh and interesting and to reach possible new fans, but the base is what keeps the hero interesting to its original fans and lets the comic creator in business.

I think our treatment of the scriptural narrative undergoes the same tension.  The narrative that plays itself out through creation, fall, covenant, exile, redemption and even through today has often been wrapped up in much insider language and story to keep us faithful Jesus followers happy that we often leave the continuing narrative of what God is doing and revealing in the world today out of the “original” narrative and instead relegate it to the realm of testimony instead of being integral parts of God’s story.  It is true we could likely keep rehashing the same story over and over with new coverings and keep the base happy, but what about exploring the new angles to bring the great story of God to new people?  What angles need to be explored?  How much self-referencing is healthy and appropriate?

After reading the article, what do you think?