Those who dance are considered insane by those who can’t hear the music. – George Carlin
In the early '70s, my parents were leading a church in Wisconsin. This church served 300 hardworking, salt of the earth Midwesterners. But there was a family whose older children didn’t fit into the suit, tie, and Bible-carrying culture of Sunday mornings. So they started a Bible study at their house; and before they knew it, 200 hippies were gathering in their home. Yeah. Peace signs, bell bottoms, crocheted halter tops, the whole works.
Soon enough, the hippies asked, “When do we get to come to your church?”
And with one question, and for one Sunday, attendance at our church nearly doubled. But it was a major culture clash, as the tribal rules of our church had a head-on collision with those from the outside. The church “won.” The next Sunday only 20 hippies came. The third Sunday, only one showed up. Yup, just one courageous soul came barefoot in holey jeans, and sat cross-legged on the floor right in front of the platform, willing to break our isolating tribal rules.
He wouldn’t give in. That young man stayed and attended membership class with those suit-clad members who looked at him a bit strangely and gave him the cold shoulder. At the end of the class, as part of his membership requirements, he stood to share his story:
“I didn’t know Jesus until two months ago. I’ve got so much to learn, and one of the things I’ve learned is that I’m supposed to hang out with you people... I’ve read the Bible. I’ve got to love you so I’m gonna choose to love you, even though you have shown no love to me.”
Then he asked, “Can I talk with someone about how we can do this better than we’ve been doing it?” An older man stood up and invited the hippie to lunch. Together, they came up with a plan to build relationships between the two cultures. Tribal rules faded. Divisions erased. Invitations extended. Isolation broken... And several pairs of bare feet graced the doors of our church once again.
All because someone chose to show love where no love had been. All because someone chose to leave behind the tribal rules so the tribe could grow and be free and love as they all learned to dance in grace together.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith... clothed... with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one... (Galatians 3:26-28)
When we let the tribal rules fall, a diverse Kingdom reigns.
Father of all nations, the better choice is always You. Let me approach You as a child approaches a father, barefoot and ready to dance. I might not know the way, but I know Your love. I’m carefully wrapping my arms around Your waist, putting both my bare feet on top of Yours, and waiting for the dance to begin – let Your steps be mine. Amen.
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