[ Statement #4: We embrace the process.[i] We recognize that people growing in their gifts, group discussions, and group decision-making all take longer[ii] but we see the value in people growing by doing and by witnessing decisions develop rather than simply being told final results. ]
This ain’t the only shot we’ve got so let’s make this one
Count for more than a kamikaze[iii] going down without a fight[iv]
You know we’re in this fight for life
This is the long haul, man, the resistance[v]
For true growth, through struggle,
We never arrive
But we grow together when we push[vi] on each other
And I will not be completely satisfied
With stopping short
When life only lasts for a little bit
So this is how we make the most of it[viii] ‘til the end
Tonight’s the night when we were young[ix]
And had so much left to learn…
To learn and to know and a thousand ways to grow into the
Fullness of the measure of Christ[x], but we’re not there… but it
Doesn’t mean that we don’t do
You learn from me and I learn from you
Whether we live or die we do it together[xi]
And this takes the rest of our lives
[i] Much of this song is inspired by concepts found in the first few chapters of Paul David Tripp’s Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands. To very succinctly sum up, as we are continually being changed by God we can also be changers used by God in other peoples’ lives. Or, to quote, “God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things in the lives of others… God never intended us to simply be the objects of his love. We are also called to be instruments of that love in the lives of others.”
[ii] Check out Donald Miller’s talk on Paradigm Shifts: This excerpt is quite long, but it’s even more worth it to just go listen to the whole thing to get the wider scope of what he’s talking about. This starts at 18:14, addressing our wrong thinking: “People are tools to validate me. If I go to Seven Eleven for a slurpie and the guy behind the counter has to crack the nickel thing open, I’m going, ‘Couldn’t you have done that before I got here? I have to wait for you to figure that out. That’s like, two seconds, and I want to go home and watch TV.’ If you’re buying a slurpie, you’re not in a hurry to go anywhere. There’s nothing important that you need to get to. You don’t stand there with a slurpie and say, ‘My wife’s having a baby for crying out loud! Break the nickel. Quick.’ No! That never happens. And we get so frustrated with each other. Especially in America, we treat each other like products. I’ll have people come up to me – ‘Hey man, I paid thirteen dollars for your book and I didn’t like it. You owe me thirteen dollars.’ It’s like, ‘I get eighty five cents of that… and I ain’t paying you.’ But we deserve, don’t we? I mean, we do this to our pastors – we’ll leave church and be like, ‘Aw, I didn’t get anything out of that.’ We’re consumers. I mean, if we don’t get cheap crap quick we are frustrated.” All that to say, we want to go deep with each other. We don’t want to just consume. And if it takes a little longer, so be it.
[iii] The whole kamikaze pilot scenario strikes me as having a you’ve-trained-your-whole-career-for-this-one-instance kind of finality to it, in contrast with continuing, ongoing training and progression all the way through life. To put it more positively and less I’m-going-to-die-y, think about serving others: Not “You have something to offer others once you’ve gone to college, then gotten your masters degree and had a couple years in the field,” (as one example) but “you sure can go to college if you want to and you sure can get experience in the field, but you’ve got knowledge and experiences to share from right now.” Of course, we continue to grow and change and be shaped by Christ and have more and more to offer along the way because we know him just that much more, but let’s not limit ourselves to not being able to offer anything because we’re not “experts” yet. We have Holy Spirit inside of us! He has been at every supernatural thing that God has ever done. We may be unsure, but he’s not! Let’s not sit around and only get academic and theoretical, let’s humbly but confidently press in to Him and go for it in action and truth.
[iv] It’s very possible that I have a misunderstanding of the honor or bravery it took to be a kamikaze pilot. Surely it was a strategy used in a fight, but it’s not much of a fight in and of itself. There’s no real strategy, no plan for sustainability, no need to maintain anything – you just crash, without a fight, so to speak.
[v] Man, I just can’t get away from that Josh Garrels fella! Again, part of the long haul is not growing soft or weary and giving in to the paradigms around us. It’s always going to be easier to just have someone tell us what to do, rather than work through the struggle of collective and collaborative decision making; it’s always going to be easier to just let the squeaky wheels get heard; it’s always going to be easier to just throw in the towel altogether when the going gets tough… It might be easier, but it’s not going to be better! God has so designed Christ’s body to function in a way that is different from any other norm of leadership and community. Jesus is our head and we’re each individual parts of his body… What!? And somehow, by submitting to him, and to each other, and by relying on the varied gifts and abilities of the different members of his body, he fills us and our work with his presence and turns it into his own work for his own kingdom! It’s so easy to miss that, though, and end up with majority votes, winners and losers, buck-stops-here-ers, and the like… it’s easy to miss, that is, if we don’t believe in resistance of the dominant social paradigms that seem to make so much sense sometimes. They surely might be “easier,” but not worth it. No way.
[vi] Which usually doesn’t feel that great, BTW. But spurring each other onward is a natural part of working together to accomplish something greater than ourselves, so I guess we should get used to it (there are better or worse ways to do this, however, so let’s figure out encouraging and loving ways to spur on, not harsh or inconsiderate ones). It’s gonna be great, just wait.
[vii] Can you imagine getting to a point where you’re just, like, okay with not changing anymore? I don’t ever want to settle! I want God to still be working on me all the way until I die. I want to look just a little bit more like him every day, because I’ve been with him just that much more. No stopping that transformation. No settling for ‘close enough’. God’s not done with us yet! He loves who we are in truth and desires us more than anything – nothing can change that – yet it doesn’t mean we can’t continue to be conformed to his image. Every day, man. A little more every day. C’mon. Let’s keep going.
[viii] “This” (growing together and spurring each other on) is how we make the most of “it” (the time we have in this present life [short as it is when compared to eternity] to be transformed into his image!)
[ix] The amazing (and sometimes slightly embarrassing) part about being beings that are always growing and changing is that we can always look back in our lives and see times of immaturity, naivety, ignorance, or innocence. That means that right now should, in theory, also be a time that I look back to sometime in the future and shake my head and smile a little and think, “Man, what was I thinking?”
[x] Why do we do this? Why do we gather together to be led and to be taught and to spur each other on towards something we have not yet achieved, through thick and thin, through better and worse, through good times and bad? We do it “for the equipping of the saints (that’s us!) for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” And how long do we do it for? “Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” That’s Ephesians 4:12-13…
[xi] Not just, like, in physical proximity. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to be a part of a small group of people striving after the same thing, but “we” do this “together” is every follower of Jesus together with every other follower. We’re Christ’s body – his chosen way to manifest his very self and presence in the world. We’re in this together (see Planet Fatty).