Mark Steele: Man on a Christianish Mission
- Tuesday, August 04, 2009
All I’m saying is “lead with love.” I think you can certainly agree that we’ve led with animosity. We’ve lead with “you’re wrong.” And yes, they very well may be wrong. But God leads with “you’re wrong.” We lead with “he loves you.” It’s not a magic formula, and it’s a tough call but it’s the only thing that’s going to actually bring those people to Christ. And that is the important equation when you sit down with it and what will actually transform their lives.
You detail another story of how you found your Christmas present from your brother Dav before Christmas when you were kids. You tie that in with the question that a lot of us ask, “What’s in this Christian life for me and can I have it right now?” Why do we approach living like that?
Nobody likes a recession. Recessions are not fun, they’re painful and when they start they harbor a lot of fear. And you know why they harbor a lot of fear? Because we can’t imagine going without the wealth that we have. We can’t imagine the scope of our lives lessening in the way that it changes. But it is so good for us when it does, because when we suddenly have to go without, our perspective changes on why we went with in the first place.
And that comes from the chapter, “Vanilla Me,” which is a very intentional title because it really goes into the descriptive word “vanilla” and that is what we as followers of Christ become more and more and more, the more we have. And I’m just not talking about the more we obtain. I know wealthy people who are very strong followers of Christ and are by no means vanilla, because the things they have don’t have them. You know what I mean? But I know people who don’t have much but they are so stuck on the fear and worry. And sometimes it’s not greed. Sometimes it’s the fear of being without, but the blessings own them.
And so this story goes into this whole idea of not just things but the whole idea of Christmas Eve, and as a child on Christmas Eve of laying awake all night, desperately needing that wrapped thing. And not just needing it, but needing it right now and needing to consume it whole and needing to not wait and needing to have everything fulfilled.
In the Word, people of faith did not get quick answers and did not get easy answers. We often focus on the idea that God revealed himself in person. And we think that he just doesn’t do that anymore so we must not be as good—when in reality, the moments that they got to see him were so few and far between and sometimes so difficult to assess what to do next.
We forget that there is something in the wrestling match of life of working out our faith, working out what God is saying, what it means. Following him every day, surrendering to him every day. That builds us and causes us to grow so strong in our faith and in our relationship with him that we can actually help transform this world or point others around us to Jesus. All of these things he’s commissioned us to do become realities because of the lifelong struggle. But we want it unwrapped now. And it’s a mindset that we, as a body, have got to move away from. We’ve got to embrace the mystery, and the conundrums and the veils that come along with following Christ.
Christianish feels different in tone and format than your first two books—perhaps a little more mellow and less high adrenaline. Was that intentional or was that a variation that was dictated by the subject matter?
It was a little bit of both. It was intentional that I wanted to really steep this book in a flow. If you’ll look deeply into the themes of each chapter, you’ll see how they parallel to the portions of Christ’s life that I’m talking about. It goes in order from his birth and his “scandalous history” all the way to when he left this earth after having risen from the grave. So, it takes his life in order and I wanted to have that sort of linear thinking in it. But outside of that, I wanted a more accessible book.
I love the tone of my first two books. They do tend to be a little more manic, but the downside of that is you have to get all the way through the book to really glean every ounce of what’s in it. And I wanted to created something a little more segment-able so that people could sit down with a single chapter, get the laugh, get the story, get the aha moment, get the teaching in it and then set it down. To follow how we transition from Christianish to truly followers of Christ, this was the approach that fit best.
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