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xtreme faith

15 September, 2004 12:56 PM

I really like Steve's post on xtreme ways. He talks about having seen xtreme worship, xtreme community but wants to see xtreme discipleship. He writes:

'I want to see xtreme discipleship. In a world where the passion of Islam includes a willingness to take up one's cross to death do us part, it is time for xtreme worship and extreme community to be entwined with xtreme discipleship. It is time for radical peacemaking and keen environmental concern and social justice to enter the regular praxis of the emerging church.'

I especially like his statement:

'xtreme worship + xtreme community + xtreme discipleship = xtreme ways of the Kingdom of God'

I've been thinking the same sorts of things lately. In my travels through the wider Christian community over the years I've seen individuals/groups/me concentrate our efforts upon one or two aspects of the life and teachings of Jesus. To some degree I think that that is natural - sometimes God chooses to work on us one step at a time - but I worry at times when I see lopsided looking churches that have a long history of only exploring one thing.

To use our DNA/Core Values to put language to this - I've been involved in groups that have almost solely focused upon the Inner Journey, others who have almost exclusively worked at the Outer Journey - and others who focus on the Together journey almost to the exclusion of the others. In my experience it is when we allow the journeys to collide that we actually find that the sparks fly - one journey impacts and enlivens the other - to remove one is to limit the potential we have to know, experience and respond to God.

What I'm feeling a renewed call to at the moment is a place of balance between all three. I'm talking on a personal level here - its easy to be side-tracked.

However I've also noticed something else - sometimes (and I stress sometimes) in aiming for 'balance' or a holistic approach it is tempting to lose the edge, to become complacent and to be a little 'wishy washy'.

I wonder if perhaps its easier to be 'xtreme' in one area than it is to be in two - and even harder to be 'xtreme' in three?

I wonder if it is easier to keep one's 'edginess' if there is only one cutting edge rather than three? (hmmm..... that makes me think of a knife - can a knife stay sharp with more than two cutting edges?... I'm getting side tracked now).

Now I'm not wanting to make excuses here to just focus upon mission, or worship, or community or whatever aspect of the call of Jesus we feel predisposed to respond to. I'm convinced that the commands of Jesus to love 'God', 'Neighbor' (and self), 'One Another' were not three options but rather something of an intertwined package. And the example that he gave us to do so was 'xtreme' to say the least.

However I think we have to acknowledge that its a complex thing we're striving for (although at times - in moments of clarity - its remarkably simple) in the midst of a chaotic world of change. How it manifests itself in each of our lives and communities will also be remarkably different from one another due to our contexts.

I'm thinking out loud here again - writing on the fly again so please forgive me while I attempt something resembling a point.

I'm wondering if we need to learn to see the call of Jesus as a more integrated, single focused call again? Whilst using language like, 'Inner, Outer and Together' journeys can be helpful to unpack his message and help us respond - perhaps they also limit us in someway. Maybe our knife does have three edges, perhaps even more? Maybe its time to try to get our head around a more integrated life of faith again.

Interested in your thoughts - feelings - reactions - experiences to some of this.



Great post.
I just like to use a little analogy to put the three together.
It's like braiding the hair. You first seperate the hair into three groups, get them neat and equal, then braid them into one big group again, and when it's finished, it becomes something with style.

Susan » 15 September, 2004 1:56 PM

Hi Darren

Yeah I concur with your fears about 'balance' - it seems to have the potential to be a synonym for apathy.

What has been going on with me personally has been a growing challenge concerning my lifestyle.

It's difficult to express in words yet cos it's still organic at this point but it's essentially a re-evaluation of my faith along the lines of simple living

I have been a Xn (of sorts) for almost all of my 32 years. I was very good at Theology and Bible Study - I was a well established white, Conservative Evangelical with an education and a very good paying job.

I guess you could say my eyes have been opened and what looked to me to be a pretty sewed up kind of faith has suddenly been pulled wide open and looks to have gaping holes

With respect to Creation for example I always saw the need for ecology to be ranked well below that of evangelism (Hey the world (tho important) is stuffed anyway and God's going to get rid of it so why expend energy on it? Surely Evangelism is more important?)

But I have reversed my view on that - Creation is important because God said so - just like He said we are important and He's going to redeem it - not replace it.

I have also become increasingly aware of Social Justice issues like children enslaved as prostitutes or prisoners making Adidas clothing etc. This disturbs me very greatly...

(I am really over simplifying the change here but hopefully you follow the spirit of it)

BUT: I go to church in a conventional somewhat charismatic church (OK - it's pentecostal) surrounded by lovely, sincere people ... who wear brand name clothing and drive nice cars etc... they are wonderful God-filled people who desire earnestly for their family and friends to know Jesus (as do I) and I love them for this

Sometimes it still feels like to talk about things other than the urgent need for evangelism is little more than going back to that intellectualism I elluded to earlier... clever, but (frankly) pointless

BUT I know it's not.

I kind of feel like a man without a country. The emerging church seems well suited to new Christians - intelligent, educated individuals who quite rightly won't settle for "Shhh - he's the pastor - he's right! Don't be an upstart" - they want to get their hands dirty too...

The "existing" church is great for those, who like me, enjoy the traditional corporate approaches to worship and great sermons... but can also feel distant and contrived

But how do you capture both? And how do I hold all of this without feeling like I'm going to meltdown?

I hope this doesn't sound like I'm specifically asking for help... I have a wonderful girlfriend (hopefully soon to be fiance) who is great to talk these things thru with - but still I'm aware of this kind of invisible pressure...

How can I be evangelist, teacher and exorter, ecologist, student, disciple? How do I serve all of Jesus? Who do I (Conservative Evangelical Pentecostal faux Post Modernist) talk to about these things?

Randall » 15 September, 2004 4:32 PM

On an additional note,

Darren, it seems that you are a person that does look to the Bible for the answers.

I appreciate your willingness to ask the TOUGH QUESTIONS, but to then follow it up... Even when the ANSWERS are also TOUGH.

harmless » 16 September, 2004 5:44 AM

With respect, harmless, cos I feel we are actually on the same page, the Word is exactly where my questions are coming from

I am still a good evangelical at heart - I love and respect God's word as my final source of authority - but what's happened is God has exploded out of and thru the Bible into all these areas of my life...

...the girlfriend I mentioned earlier and I spend Monday nights discussing and studying the word in depth... I have remet Jesus afresh there, only this time He is much much bigger than He has ever been...

...and this is where my problem lies. This new powerful HUGE Jesus who doesn't just live in my heart as my best friend - he explodes across my world and all over the place and I keep seeing Him everywhere and in all things... it's, quite honestly, scary.

As Mrs Beaver said of Aslan when asked if he was safe...

"Safe? No. But He is good..."


Randall » 16 September, 2004 7:52 AM

thanx for the link darren and glad you found it stimulating.
I would like to point out I am focusing much more on church as a whole cf individuals.
This is an attempt to move a conversation forward among what I see as disparate threads of the emerging church movement.

steve » 16 September, 2004 8:49 AM

Good discussions above - nice to see others on the same page. I really enjoyed your questions/sharing Randall - I too have been on a very similar journey. I've had some similar learning recently about the environmental stuff and that of justice. Its good that you have someone to talk to about it all cause it can be a bit overwhelming - I wish I had the answers to your questions! :-)

Darren Rowse » 16 September, 2004 9:21 AM

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