Christian Living

A terrestrial calling

“You’re crazy enough to change the world.” 

Those were prophetic words spoken to me by an elder who wasn’t happy with me. Trust me, he didn’t mean that as a compliment. He said that because I was royally screwing up his country club. His nice little church who loved their closed circle of friends and hid behind and glass walled lie of, “We just want to protect our kids from the world” had been exposed to the realities of some radical transformation that can occur when you challenge students to read God’s Word uninterpretted.

“What does a plain reading of this tell you to do?” 

As I taught middle school and high school students how to do  that in a Christian school and the church that hosted it, kids started asking questions that freaked their parents out. And those freaked out parents called the elders. And the elders told me to stop teaching like that.

Before you can change the world, you better change your block

This has been a turn in my understanding of that phrase, of late. I can point to specific things that happen in my world and say, “Yes, I had a hand in impacting that. Those things have changed because of my being here.”

But my conviction is becoming that none of that matters if I don’t love my neighbors enough to help them discover the truths that those middle school and high school students discovered way back when. If I don’t love my neighbors enough to royally mess up their lives by introducing Jesus’ insurrection of the heart, I say I love my neighbors but I really don’t.

That’s my terrestrial calling. I can think and dream in planetary terms. But in reality? My calling is really, really local.

Christian Living

Do I have a vision problem?

visionless: it is my claim that this is the most attractive but most insidious yeast undermining religious communities. Vision has a devious way of focusing our attention outside of ourselves to some lofty external goal, rather than keeping ourselves committed to love and service in the community, then as a result beyond the immediate community by the outpouring of the overflow. Jesus’ vision, if it could be said he had any vision at all, was to die… to hand himself over to the authorities, etc. Any other vision than the vision to be willing to die is one that decides who can play and who cannot for the longevity of the vision and it’s crafters. It defines the shape and nature of the community and the people within it, often with violence against the natural goodness and innate spirituality of its people. It is vision that eventually and inevitably changes an institution into stone.


Lately, I’ve been chewing on David Hayward’s work on becoming visionless. (His book on the subject)

In so many ways this concept deeply resonates with my experience. And in so many ways it deeply offends my experience.

On the one hand, my own words would argue that if you don’t have a clearly defined vision for yourself you’ll be paralyzed by your inability to say no to good/bad things that come your way. Vision permits lazer-like focus.

On the other hand, I’m haunted by the reality that often times I’m saying no to things that are close to me, forsaking the organic opportunity for one cultivated in alignment with my vision.

In my mind vision allows me to filter. That’s why David’s words are annoying me so much. Who am I to try to put a filter on what God puts right before me? Who am I to forsake the organic for the cultivated? 

Question: What would your life look like if you were to reorientate yourself around Hayward’s words above. (Put aside your ability to disagree with him, just imagine what your life would be like if this were true and it became a guide. How would yourlife change?)

Christian Living Culture

Radically Local

Photo by Doc Searls via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I don’t drive my car very often.

We are a one car family and I choose to take the trolley to work most days. I’ve learned to love the slowness of riding my bike and taking public transportation.

When I do drive it tends to be with the five of us crammed into our Passat. A fun and usually noisy experience that I’ve learned to adore.

But, the other day was different and found myself in the car alone. And I did something even more rare… I turned on the radio and surfed some channels.

I found a local station that just plays local bands. Their commericals said something like this, “Sure, we could be like everyone else and copycat the LA stations. But we’re local. We’re San Diego. We favor local music over commercial hits.

It was cool. Fresh even. And something deep in me resonated with the knowledge that I was hearing music on the radio you wouldn’t hear on the radio anywhere else.

Radically Local

All of this is a movement towards local. Farmers markets have become popular across the country– a celebration of locally grown foods. Food trucks are all the rage– cooking up local eats in a way that is both local and mobile. Local food chains are a growing market. Local festivals are as strong as ever.

In the past 3-4 years people have grown a taste for all things local. And increasingly people are radically local and radically loyal to locals.

It is a pendulum swing against the rapid nationalization of the past decade. You could get a Chicago style pizza in LA. You could get buttered grits in Seattle. You could get a Krispie Kreme donut at any gas station in North America.

And for a time I think people thought that was novel and cool. But people tired of this trend quickly. It was awesome that in the same restaurant they could chose between a Texas steak, a Pad Thai, or Kansas rub BBQ ribs until they woke up to the realization that while novel, it wasn’t authentic. People began to realize that convenience was coming at the cost of destroying what made their community interesting.

And the pendulum has swung the other way.

People’s preference now shifting towards local. And people are getting radical about local. It starts with food and music. But it won’t stop there.

God’s call to become radically local

I have an assumption that God is smarter than I am. He isn’t surprised by the street I live on or who my neighbors are. I’d like to think that God has you right where He wants you for His purposes. When Jesus was asked what the Greatest Commandment was Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.

We aren’t called to hide from our neighbors. Or pretend they don’t exist. Or justify that since our neighbors are weird or jerks or old or drunks that they aren’t the neighbors we are supposed to love.

That’s radically local. It’s too easy to focus on what we do at church or what we do when we are leading teams or what we do when people notice or even what we do to serve the greater community as “loving our neighbors.

Loving your neighbor is often private, small, and even simple.

Simple, minor, radical local— love.