One of my favorite things in the world is when I get to take my boys camping and rafting. Life seems to make sense in the woods and a usually receive a sense of clarity while in nature. This past weekend was one such time...retreating to the woods with my two oldest boys and my dad...or so that was the plan anyway (more on that another day).
My middle son, Judah, is 4 years old. He is a lot like me and I love that. He seems to think in ways that I thought at his age, which should possibly give the world pause and should certainly confuse and worry my wife. While walking through the woods this past Saturday, holding hands and not really talking about anything, Judah looks at me out of the blue and says, "Daddy, I am a me and you are a you". I instantly thought...What a brilliant kid and what an amazingly insightful, if not philosophically profound, statement. OK, before I get carried away, I don't think he has been reading my blog and I doubt seriously he has been picking up any Kierkegaard or Nietzsche at summer camp...so maybe his words have much more meaning to me than to him, but to me, my 4 year old has dropped some serious ecclesiological wisdom in my lap. Check this out...
As best as I can tell, the drive of most ministries, churches and other organized forms or gathering of faith is conformity...conformity of thoughts, conformity of behavior, conformity of theology, etc. How else could one explain the utter outrage and disgust for anything unusual or unorthodox? For example, see what kind of reaction someone endures for suggesting traditions and particular heritages forsake rather than otherwise foster a growing faith.
So back to Judah's epiphany. I find it so profound because despite the utter display of individualism in scripture, the mission for so many attempting to follow the scriptures is often opposed to individualism. Despite the phrases often used like, "Jesus, my personal saviour"...we often link said saviour to a group, denomination or corporate gathering. In so doing I think our cumulative perspectives serve as obstacles to deeper and perhaps more genuine faith.
That is to say that God is enough, big enough, loving enough, vast enough, deep enough, etc. to deal with us on personal levels and even call us to variations in our walks that resonate deeply and intimately with God, His mission, His purposes and His calling...though not always with culture, church, community or even traditional expectations. That is to say that though God is the same yesterday, today and forever; His dealings with me, or His mercies toward me are new every morning. Though God always has been and always will be, His work in me and in others, as individuals, displays God's love for diversity and variation.
Though many have been called to lead people, there was only one Moses. Though many have been called to sacrifice, there was only one Abraham. Though many have been called to walk in a new path, a new faith and a new tradition, there was only one Paul. And so the story continues...
To me, the call is never to try to fit in to the prevailing religious culture. The path never leads through a land of predictable stagnation. God isn't interested in how closely we conform to those from who we hear about God. God seems to be much more concerned with the degree to which we conform to Him. He is concerned with the degree to which we fit into His will. His path always leads through a dangerous landscape...packed with unpredictability, saturated with warfare, decorated with love and overflowing with scents of His goodness.
God smiles and reminds me that out of the mouth of babes, or 4 year olds as the case may be, His truth flows like a raging river. Celebrate, give thanks to God and cherish the fact that Gos has seen to it that "I AM A ME AND YOU ARE A YOU".