Here Be Leaders

What do you see? Amid the cars on blocks, the guys lounging on the porch with beer cans and cigarettes, the women with shirts that don’t cover enough, the houses missing windows, the peeling paint, the curling siding—what do you see?

I see two groups of sweaty fishermen worn out from a fruitless catch. I see a tax collector hunkered down beneath guilt and snide epithets. I see a crippled man continually hoping someone will put him into the pool. I see a woman slinking down to the well for water.

Beneath those oil-smears and belly-bearing tank tops are evangelists, leaders, pastors, teachers, singers, and testimonies. Beside the rusted out Impalas are Peters and Philips, Matthews and Pauls. Really.

Jesus saw leaders in the dirty, rejected, and fallen. He saw new life in those who’d settled for the old. And, even better, He taught these people to see beneath the grime too.

Wherever you live, whatever your city, there are leaders waiting. We have to forget what the world says about how and where leaders come from—too many of them are left sitting with beer cans on front porches.

So, what do you see?

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A “Christ-Haunted Landscape”

I’ve been trying to teach myself Greek. It’s a slow process that involves studying breath marks and staring at a Greek New Testament to see if something clicks. So far, Spirit-fueled osmosis has failed me—back to studying the regular way.

Personally, I have no problem with translations, since Jesus and the apostles used one (Hebrew to Greek, ironically). And there are many quality translations available. But there’s something about the original Greek words that captivates me—the depth of meaning, the flow. Learning it feels like pulling back a layer of separation, the subtle distance English can create between alpha and a. I need that veil to be gone as much as possible.

It also reminds me of the challenge we face in working as ministers of the Word in a “Christ-haunted landscape” in America. Many people here still feel the lingering shadow of the church, and for them, it’s foreign and even ghastly. The words we use can be as Greek to them as the original New Testament is to us. Even sin, a word so foundational to the gospel message, has little meaning to a generation bemused with self-empowerment.

I’m encouraged that Christ used the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew/Aramaic Old Testament). Certainly, being God very God (that is, really, really God), He could have whipped out some impressive old languages, but, then, people might not have understood (as they missed the point while He was on the cross). He preferred to speak to them.

Learning Greek is about understanding the Bible as best as I can, but I’m also trying to learn the culture just as much. The point for any Christian is to study what God says and to do that. If we’re to love people like He told us, we need to understand where and how they hurt. Otherwise, we can’t bandage the wounds and give them some good news.

Be the church outside the building.

(Thanks to Jonathan Martin for inspiring this title.)