“beyond labels”

This last week I have been called “brave,” “liberal,” “feminist,” and a “coward.”  These were all very interesting responses to my announcing I have applied to attend seminary.  I suppose these labels are to be expected for a woman who treasures her calling and is still trying to work out the framework of Biblical femininity within a community of people who are also trying to figure it out.  Honestly, none of the responses or labels surprised me.

However, my response has taken me by surprise.  I’d like to say that the way in which I am labeled by others does not bother me, but I’d be lying.  I enjoy the affirmation of others.  In the absence of affirmation, I camp out in  fear. 

Reading Franis Chan’s “Forgotten God” this morning has made me consider if I enjoy the affirmation of others more than the affirmation of God.  Do I fear other’s disapproval more than I long for the approval of God?   Chan says, “It means refusing to let your fears of what others think, your fears of rejection, keep you from pursuing the truth about the Holy Spirit and whatever else God is teaching you and calling you to do” (p. 46).

So why would a woman go to seminary?  What is it that God is teaching me and calling me to do? I am positive that God is calling me to be all that I can be in the image of God, for His glory (2 Cor. 3:17-18).  For whatever reason, seminary is a part of my becoming.  

Today I am moving beyond the labels to be affirmed by the Counselor and Great Affirmer.   There is truth in His affirmation.  There is confidence in His leading.  I’m refusing to let the labels or fear convince me otherwise.

“taking Jesus to see Pearl Jam”

Last night, the hubs and I took a walk down memory lane to celebrate 18 years of marriage. We attended the Pearl Jam concert in Los Angeles. For those of you who know me in my real life, you can pick up your chins off the floor. I know I hardly seem like the type that would attend a Pearl Jam concert, let alone enjoy it.

I’ll admit, taking Jesus (in me) to a Pearl Jam concert can create quite an internal conflict. Did I love the music? Yes. Did I enjoy the lyrics, language, and general environment? Most definitely, I did not. I knew that Jesus in me was grieved for the prevalence of lostness all around me.

The grief went beyond just the depravity of those who can’t enjoy a concert without drugs, alcohol and other sinfully yucky stuff. My grief was one that had its eyes turned back to the church.

You see, it occurred to me as I watched this band rock out until there was nothing left that their performance would not have changed one iota if there was no one in the audience to watch. They love the ability to make music and they are passionate about communicating the meaning of their songs. Their god is music and they worship “it” like it matters. It wasn’t just a show…and that’s what made me sad.

Sad that the church has become so passionless about her God. Sad that we only worship when the show is on and people are there to watch. Sad that three and half hours of poured out worship were wasted on a god other than the One True God. Sad that most churches would not consider a three and half hour worship time because so few would consider it important enough to attend. Sad thinking that maybe those who attended without Jesus last night (and they were many) are devoted fans to a substitute god because the church has offered such a fake and boring representation of real worship. Sad that I’m convinced the band did not have one pre-concert conversation about being “relevant” and instead just presented themselves unashamedly as they are.

So when you take Jesus to see Pearl Jam, beware–He might show you more than you want to see. He might show you that your life has become passionless because you just live for the next show, rather than live to be the show (“Let your light shine before me in such a way that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” Matthew 5:16). He might show you that the unregenerate have a greater passion than you do, though you claim to call upon the name of the Most High ( “Let them know that you, whose name is LORD–that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.” Psalm 83:13.) He might show you that you have been asleep and the time has come for you to wake up and make His glory known. (“Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn” Psalm 57:8.)