Let’s just pretend there is not an eight month gap between this post and the last.
The subversion of the day relates to relationships and the darkness-defeating act of choosing to spend time with someone who may not be very much like you… or may even be a person you don’t like. I feel like this deserves a name, maybe a working title. Let’s call it… relational fire. I don’t know how I feel about the term, but I will take suggestions. The idea, ultimately, is that you intentionally build a close, personal, intimate relationship with a person who is on a completely different spectrum than you. Why? We’ll get to that.
The rumblings of this idea came from a sermon that I heard recently from a very eloquent, biblical pedagogue (my wife) on relationships between the young and the old in the community called the church. She pointed out that we make distinctions too much, and gave one of the greatest examples of this- the holiday dinner table. Adults have a place that is well prepared, nice, pleasant… while children are pushed to the basement onto toy furniture with haphazardly strewn plate ware. Separated, and not equal.
I feel like the church, and America, has struggled with that issue somewhere else before.
At any rate, she closed her message with a call to action… in the form of little pieces of rope. She challenged older people (and older in the faith) to seek out people they would commit to mentor, and she challenged younger people to seek out older people to mentor them. I responded, as did others, and I felt a strong conviction to prioritize this. Now, one person I sought out to mentor (which I haven’t done great at) and I are quite different- he is African American, raised in more of an inner-city area, without a father, and likes sports. Just those things are miles away from me. However, the more difficult, relational fire situation is with a person that I asked to mentor me. We divide in some very drastic ways- I am a pacifist, he is a Vietnam veteran; I believe in operating sort of outside of government, he loves America; I like to listen to others and sometimes let others inform or change my opinions, he is committed to staying where he is; I have what some would describe (maybe) as liberal views and non-traditional theological views, he is a staunch conservative and orthodox Christian.
Anybody ever watched the Odd Couple?
There are issues that exist that we are tempted to (and might in the future) fight tooth and nail over. However, I see him as a man who loves God and is committed to serving his community of faith, and I think there is a lot I can learn from him, and maybe he can learn a little from me (though he might not want to). So why is this all subversive? It is because our ‘natural’ inclination is to move away from the things that are different and difficult for us, and by natural I mean an effect of our living in a world infected by death. We are afraid of death, and pain, so we run from anything that looks like it. But Christ has called us to do something else to break the strongholds of this world- to walk head on into the relational fire, as a living sacrifice, and stay there with a deep trust that the consuming fire that is our God will not let us be consumed. When we put ourselves on the line, we take a step to destroy the bonds of darkness around us, and invite light into our world. Get close to someone very different from you, and subvert the powers today.
Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another.