Yesterday I had the opportunity to hear Tony Campolo speak at Belmont University. For an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening, I sat soaking up the Gospel proclaimed from his lips and his life with an auditorium full of undergraduate student eager to hear something real. Boy did they get it. There were a few moments when I thought, “wow. If this is what it means to follow Christ and who the Church is called to be, I understand why some of my friends and others are seeking was to follow Jesus outside of the institutional Church or why some of them do not want to have anything to do with us.” It is not my choice or experience, but it is hard to hear the Kingdom vision, our story as the Western Church, some of the actions of the Church today, and not understand some people’s struggles to find a home within it. He was very real with us about who we (the Church) have been, who we are and who God is constantly at work creating us to be.

Towards the end of his talk last night he sung “Little Boxes”…

… followed by words encouraging us to not allow the world to put us into a little box, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and surrendering our lives to the love & way of God expressed through the life of Jesus Christ.

One important message he offered was that the renewing of the mind and surrendering of the heart to the Love, will lead us to being a “different kind of” whatever we find passion and life in doing in the world for those who choose to follow Christ. It means we will be a different kind of student, doctor, waitress, spiritual leader, advocate, lawyer, business executive, teacher, coffee shop owner, fashion designer, parent, non-profit creator, policeman, nurse, etc.  

We become a different kind of neighbor.

It was good, and yet extremely uncomfortable word. It was good to chat with him for a few minutes after his first talk, asking questions and engaging in conversation about a message I am so drawn to and the tension with that message has created within me as a young African-American female in the USA that has a very particular story and experience in the USA. Yesterday was the first time listening to a radical Christianity message that I felt a strong sense of my particularities as a person following Christ in the USA, and that the particular message being shared by the speaker was not really meant for me yet it was. It was strange. 

One thing I did not have any difficulties hearing or felt a need to filter through was the heart of his message: When we lay down our lives in sacrificial love, we are drawn into a story that changes and/or at least challenges us.

Salvation. Redemption. Life.

Love.

For two hours yesterday I remembered with other people of faith, that I belong to God and this belonging has serious implications upon how I daily choose to live I continue to become.

I also remembered how dangerous it is to listen to folks like Tony Campolo, Amy Laura Hall, Shane Claiborne, Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa, Bart Campolo, Luonne Rouse, Trevor Hudson, Alan Storey, Stephen Bryant, Vance Ross, Peter Storey and Bill Turner share the Gospel story. At times it feels like a wrecking ball, as I push against the life the Gospel story draws me into and the life other narratives in my life are pulling me towards.  I am not always sure if I like it.

Dangerous stuff.  I never leave “just the same.”

Little Boxes

Little boxes on the hillside Little boxes made of ticky tacky Little boxes Little boxes Little boxes all the same

There’s a green one and a pink one And a blue one and a yellow one And they’re all made out of ticky tacky And they all look just the same

And the people in the houses all go to the university And they all get put in boxes, little boxes all the same And there’s doctors and there’s lawyers And business executives And they’re all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same

And they all play on the golf course and drink their martini dry And they all have pretty children and the children go to school And the children go to summer camp And then to the university And they all get put in boxes, and they all come out the same

And the boys go into business and marry and raise a family And they all get put in boxes, little boxes all the same

There’s a green one, and a pink one And a blue one and a yellow one And they’re all made out of ticky tacky And they all look just the same

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