THE WORLD'S MOST INTERESTING (HU)MAN
OR BLESSED ARE THE INTERESTED/ING
Originally posted elsewhere, November 1, 2014.
Galileo Church aims to “shelter spiritual refugees,” and defines said refugees as “any for whom church has become boring, irrelevant, exclusive, or painful.” In all truth, it’s “boring” that bugs me most about churches I’ve known.
Because while Jesus was certainly not irrelevant, exclusive, or painful in his announcement and embodiment of God’s reign, I sort of get the feeling from reading the gospels that one of his most valuable qualities was not boring. Remember all those times Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John report that “the people were astounded-amazed-astonished at his teaching, for he taught as one with authority, not like the super-boring teachers they’d been listening to and yawning at for countless Sabbaths, world without end, amen”? Or something close to that. Jesus was not like that, not like them. He was not boring.
Yes, the demon-expulsions were probably part of the draw; the formerly sick people going home healthy were pretty good advertisements, too. But even on an idyllic mountainside, with nobody to heal and nothing supernatural to give him a boost, the guy could draw a crowd because he was just…so…interesting.
Which is why I think it’s a high good for followers of Jesus to be interesting, too. Interesting in some of the same ways Jesus was interesting. Interesting because we love all the wrong people, and it causes people to whisper behind our backs. (Like Jesus.) Interesting because we don’t have very much stuff to take care of, and we don’t seem to want any more. (Ditto.) Interesting because we say and do mildly transgressive things all the time – potty mouths, we have, like Jesus. (Don’t believe me? Try Mark 7:14-19. Just try to envision what he’s saying, especially since there’s no word in his language for “sewer”.)
Interesting because we’re funny, or trying to be, in the tradition of the one whose sense of absurdist humor was unmatched. Interesting because, if you saw us party and weren’t looking closely enough, you might call us gluttons and drunkards. We’re not, and neither was he; but if it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for us. Interesting because we can get really pissed off about people taking advantage of other people, and we do our best to fix it when we can, knowing that ultimately Jesus fixes everything so that God gets everything God wants. He’s interesting like that.
And Jesus was also interesting because for as long as they followed him around, they could never quite guess what he was going to do next; what he was going to say; where he was going with this story or that. His punchlines were puzzlers. It apparently wasn’t his goal to make everything as Clear As Possible. Because that would be boring. That wouldn’t make anybody hungry for more; wouldn’t keep anybody on the hook till tomorrow; wouldn’t win anybody’s heart; wouldn’t prompt anybody’s reckless decision to drop everything else to pursue his way of life. Who leaves boats and nets and family for something they already completely understand? So Galileo Church does not aim for clarity or completion in this faith project we’re engaged in together. We’d rather be interesting than sure.
Aiming for “not boring” can be risky. We mess it up sometimes, overshooting the target and ending up somewhere beyond “interesting,” on our way to an embarrassing “uh-oh – that got a little out of control.” But the only way to keep from doing that once in a while is to play it safe. Which is boring. And the gospel just isn’t. It’s just not, and neither was he. And with God’s help, we won’t be boring, either. Now let’s go kick some puppies.
No, see, I didn’t mean that at all. We would never, never kick a puppy. But it woke you up, didn’t it? Maybe that was a bridge too far. But it was not boring. Thanks be to God.