6.10.2006

good quote from a good book

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I've been reading this book by Brian McLaren about the ways that Jesus communicated his message. He contends that Jesus spoke in many parables, and hidden messages, but he always spoke in the language of his peers. The chapter that I'm in now is titled "the Language of the Kingdom". One of the points that Brian makes is that Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is like..." Brian suggests that if Jesus were speaking to us today he may not even use the term "kingdom". Today you hardly ever see a King that actually rules over his land. In fact when we see a King most of the time that Kingship is symbolic. The power is held by others in government, the royal family is really there as a matter of tradition. It gives the peasants the warm fuzzies. Do you really think that's what Jesus had in mind? Didn't think so. Again Jesus spoke the language of the people.

Brian suggest that instead of the term "Kingdom" of God we might use other terms interchangably. For example, the "Dream" of God, the "Revolution" of God, the "Mission" of God, the "Party" of God, the "Network" of God, and the "Dance" of God.

Side note; I get most of my reading done on the elliptical at the gym. By the time I got done reading the section I'm about to share with you I was unable to hold back tears. It was pretty embarrassing. When the dude with the tattoos and spiky hair starts boo hoo-ing on the elliptical, EVERYONE notices. They stare, they whisper, and they point their fingers. I thought the pointing was a bit overboard, but that's just me.



Here is an excerpt of the section that talks about the "Party" of God;


"The party of God. Jesus often compared the kingdom to par­ties, feasts, and banquets. Today we could say that God is invit­ing people to leave their gang fights and come to a party, to leave their workaholism and rat race and come to a party, to leave their loneliness and isolation and join the party, to leave their exclu­sive parties (political ones, for example, which win elections by dividing electorates) and join one inclusive party of a different sort, to stop fighting or complaining or hating or competing and instead start partying and celebrating the goodness and love of God.

Just today I met some folks from a church in Minneapolis who demonstrate this metaphor in a dramatic and fun way. A group of them gather on a street corner in a poor part of town. They take overturned trash cans, old pots and pans, and an assortment of drums and other percussion instruments and start creating a loud, joyful rhythm. Soon a crowd gathers. It's im­possible not to smile when you hear the joyful music being made mostly from junk. Homeless folk and people from the neighbor­hood start dancing. Then the church members start distributing food-not in the somber style of a soup kitchen, but in the joy­ful atmosphere of a street party. They don't have to say a word, really, they're demonstrating their message-that the kingdom of God is like a street party to which everybody is invited.

My friend Tony Campolo tells a true story that also serves as a great parable in this regard. He was in another time zone and couldn't sleep, so well after midnight he wandered down to a doughnut shop where, it turned out, local hookers also came at the end of a night of turning tricks. There, he overheard a con­versation between two of them. One, named Agnes, said, "You know what? Tomorrow's my birthday. I'm gonna be thirty-nine." Her friend snapped back, "So what d'ya want from me? A birth­day party? Huh? You want me to get a cake and sing happy birthday to you?" The first woman replied, "Aw, come on, why do you have to be so mean? Why do you have to put me down? I'm just sayin' it's my birthday. I don't want anything from you. I mean, why should I have a birthday party? I've never had a birth­day party in my whole life. Why should I have one now?"

When they left, Tony got an idea. He asked the shop owner if Agnes came in every night, and when he replied in the affir­mative, Tony invited him into a surprise party conspiracy. The shop owner's wife even got involved. Together they arranged for a cake, candles, and typical party decorations for Agnes, who was, to Tony, a complete stranger. The next night when she came in, they shouted, "Surprise!"-and Agnes couldn't believe her eyes. The doughnut shop patrons sang, and she began to cry so hard she could barely blow out the candles. When the time came to cut the cake, she asked if they'd mind if she didn't cut it, if she could bring it home-just to keep it for a while and savor the moment. So she left, carrying her cake like a treasure.

Tony led the guests in a prayer for Agnes, after which the shop owner told Tony he didn't realize Tony was a preacher. He asked what kind of church Tony came from, and Tony replied, "I belong to a church that throws birthday parties for prostitutes at 3:30 in the morning.” The shop owner couldn't believe him. "No you don't. There ain't no church like that. If there was, I'd join it. Yep, I'd join a church like that." Sadly, there are too few churches like that, but if more of us understand the secret message of Jesus, there will be lots more."


CLICK HERE to go to Brian McLaren's website
CLICK HERE to purchase "the Secret Message of Jesus"

4 comments:

cynical-idealist said...

That was a lovely story from the book. I'll put it on my to-buy-when-I-can list.

Andrew M. said...

It is a good story about Tony Campolo and the party for prostitues and all that....and serving God's kingdom through street parties and feasts as Jesus illustrated is a great idea but you have to keep in mind that it is God's KINGDOM as he is the creator and ruler of all....

Knowing that this isn't the place to discuss any further on this I'll leave it at that...Its all really good example of serving the kingdom...not replacing it.

Gina said...

Where do I have to go to sign up? Seriously, I'm literally aching to be a part of that.

TGL said...

Hey jimmy,

It is good to have you posting again. I read that Campolo story in one of his books many years ago, and it is a powerful illustration of how we can lift up the spirts of others with some simple acts of kindness and just taking the time to care.

People always comment after reading something like that story, or the McClaren quotes, and say, "I wish I was in a church like that". God's church is what we make it. Join a body of believers that preaches the scripture, and make it better by doing those things that you want the church to be. Bemoaning that it doesn't exist gets nothing done, but being the kind of church member that you want to be creates churches that are more what you want...but you have to make the effort.

I live in the Twin Cities and have not heard of the corner party scene, but I will try to pay more attention and see if I can find it.