Bigger, Better, Faster, More! by 4 Non Blonds… was an edgy, 90’s, alt-rock album. It included their hit song, “What’s Up?”
I’ve always wanted to use the album’s title for a blog post. Bigger, Better, Faster, More! epitomizes a predominant force in American culture. It’s been like a toxic chemical spill in American church culture as well.
Living outside of the United States for over 40 years meant plenty of space to reflect on what essential Christianity should look like.
Checking out new cars in Mexico used to be pretty straightforward… you had two options—equipped or austere. “Equipped” was a car including everything you could think of. Austere meant you got what you needed to get from Point A to Point B… nothing more… standard transmission, no AC, no tinted glass, hand crank windows, push button locks… wheels with cheap tires… no power brakes… and no power steering—the kind that made beefing up at the gym unnecessary.
Fully equipped or austere—huge difference between the two… except in one important area—getting from Point A to Point B. It took about the same length of time, in the same traffic conditions, and subject to the same traffic laws. The difference between the two models narrowed down to a question of comfort and image.
How do you take your Christianity... fully equipped or austere? Americanized or the back-to-basics version? I find fully equipped Christianity to be detrimental in ways the Point A to Point B variety is not.
Jesus commands us to make disciples. Making a disciple is a nuanced, Spirit-guided process requiring constant tweaking on the fly. It presupposes the need for genuine friend-making in an intensely personal, private setting. That means one-on-one. Bigger, Better, Faster, More! is not a compatible driving force in essential Christianity.
It may be a function of a different season in my life… but I’m feeling less preoccupied with growing a wider sphere of influence. I’m more comfortable than ever with what Jesus has tried to teach me for decades. I’m learning that…
…small is big.
Reaching into one heart deeply… watching one person’s gaze turn toward God… spotting when someone gets hungry for serving Jesus more than self… prayerfully expectant when a spark of compassion for a lost world bursts into a glowing fire… celebrating the hopefulness of eternal fruit in a newly surrendered Gospel kingdom worker.
Why do I love Sobremesa (after-meal, table-talk)? It’s the convergence of two favorite things in my life. I like my Christianity the way I like my coffee… strong and black with nothing added. The difference I see between the typical American church experience and a quality sobremesa/discipleship time feels a lot like my car shopping experience. It narrows down to a question of comfort and image.
There is nothing wrong with being comfortable per se. The problem arises when we don’t know anything except “comfortable” long enough to stop yearning for something far better. We acquiesce to “churchy-ness” without ever experiencing the dynamism and kingdom opportunities inherent in “sobremesa-ness.”
The first thing I see when I open my laptop in the morning is my Prayer/Influence list… people who know me but probably don’t know each other. The common denominator for me is a desire to see God’s kingdom nurtured and extended through them. If I can be some small part of that… well… what more could I ever want?
I still like my own mantra better…
We’re supposed to be somebody’s Paul. Where’s our Timothy?