Earlier in the week, my Facebook status was “Crystal is under construction.” That status is really the best 1-line summary of this book. We are always under construction. This book embraces that concept – and explores the true meaning of what it means to “be spiritual.”
Mike Yaconelli died in 2003, and I think one of the most powerful parts of the book was the foreward written by his wife. She gives us a glimpse of what kind of man Mike was – incredibly real. A man of deep faith, and at the same time a man living in the trenches of life. It is out of that framework that he wrote this book. If I won the lottery, I think this may be one of those books I bought a ton of copies of and began passing it out to people – believers and nonbelievers alike. It challenges us to really think about what our lives might look like if we stopped trying to be perfect and simply acknowledged that we are a complete mess and will always be a complete mess.
Spirituality is not about being perfect. Instead, spirituality is about God being present in the mess of our flawed and broken lives. Our lives will always be broken – as long as we are on this earth. When we acknowledge that fact – when we admit that we are always under construction then we can really start living the life that God has called us to. A life of courage, conviction, and boldness.
This book does an incredible job of challenging the church and those of us who call ourselves Christians. A couple of my favorite quotes from the book:
“The essence of messy spirituality is the refusal to pretend, to lie, or to allow others to believe we are something that we are not.”
“Nothing makes people in the church more angry than grace.”
“The church, by and large, has had a poor record of encouraging freedom. She has spent so much time inculcating in us the fear of making mistakes, that she has made us like ill-taught piano students: we play our songs, but we never really hear them because our main concern is not to make music but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch.” (Quoting Robert Capon)
“Sometimes the Holy Spirit asks us to violate our convictions for a season in order to live the faith, not just talk about it.”
“Freedom in Christ means I am free from everyone else’s definition of freedom for me. Because I am free in Christ, when it comes to my relationship with him, he is the only one I answer to. Because I am free in Christ, I am free from other people’s concern that I might not use my freedom well.”
Let’s face it. We, as Christians, don’t do a very good job of encouraging freedom. We claim to be free from sin, but instead of really being free, we become slaves to the “rules” that we think we should live by. We are so afraid of making mistakes that we forget to live. What would our lives look like if we stopped living in fear of making mistakes and BOLDLY stepped forward to act like Jesus did? Jesus was living in the trenches. Jesus formed relationships with people that the rest of the world despised. Yet all too often, when we form real relationships with people on the outskirts of society, we are talked about – gossipped about. All too often when we step forward to act boldly, we are judged by those around us. Don’t get me wrong … accountability is important for all of us along our faith journeys, but all too often accountability becomes judgment. Because of Christ, God is the only one that we answer to. Christ is the only one who can decide whether or not we are Christian. Talk about a bold and radical idea. Because of this reality, we don’t have to worry about what other people are saying about us. This is pretty empowering! We can dream big, and more importantly, we can act big. If we screw up in the meantime, God still loves us – unconditionally. And if we decide not to dream big and act big, well, God loves us even then.
P.S. I think I will use this as the foundation of my FCA talk on Friday – so any comments that you have would be GREATLY appreciated…be my peer reviewers please!