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Disarming for Jesus

I have a confession to make. I like pop music.

And not just the Miley Cyrus, High School Musical flavor. I like the beat thumping, chorus humming, and—dare I say it—booty-shaking kind. There it is. I am a woman in my early 30s, with three children and a minivan. I run a Christian counseling practice and a women's ministry. People look to me for soul direction and depth, and in my spare time, I like to dance around and get low, low, low.

The best part? I think that's OK with Jesus.

My senior pastor plays tennis on a team with my husband's co-worker. Last week, the team finished a game and had some beers in a cooler. One of them offered my pastor a beer and (gasp!) he took it. Later, the co-worker told my husband that he cringed because his teammate must not have known he was offering a beer to a pastor. The co-worker reported. "Wow, I was surprised he had a beer with us. That's cool."

The door is open for my husband to invite his co-worker to our church, because he is disarmed—experiencing something that goes against his preconceived notions of Christianity. I think that's OK with Jesus too.

The dictionary tells me that to "disarm" is to deprive of a weapon or remove the fuse. The word also means to relieve suspicion or win affection. I wonder about the suspicions people have toward Christians, and therefore Christianity: They judge me. They are better than I am. They won't approve of me. I won't fit in with their religion. They are all serious and no fun.

When I read the gospels, I think Jesus used this method. We know he hung around enough parties for the Pharisees to accuse him of being a drunkard. We know he befriended and taught forbidden women, despised men and pesky children.

I think the Jesus way was to disarm those around him while still being true to his mission. He interacted with culture and people so he could introduce them to his Father. He lived his life in a way that broke through stereotypes and communicated God, as he is— approachable, merciful and graceful. The people who were most upset by Jesus were the ones who preferred the status quo—the rules of the religion.

The women I talk with often tell me they will find a church "when they are good." I usually laugh and tell them I'm still waiting to be good enough for church, but thankfully, that's not what all churches are about. Sometimes an entire conversation with a teenager will be devoted to the current fashion and drama of the week—and then we talk about God. Disarming, isn't it? The concept of living a free and joyful life with Jesus may seem like a basic concept for you. But is that what your neighbors think, the ones who haven't been in church since their feet could hit the floor from the pew?

When we live our lives authentically, joyfully, and in a real-people kind of way, those around us are disarmed. They are surprised. They encounter a kind of "religion" that doesn't fit their status quo.

It is tempting to become more invested at church and less interested in the secular world around us. It feels as comfortable as sweatpants to hang out with people who believe and feel as we do. Fellowship among believers is a wonderful gift and necessary component of our faith. But if we are truly to follow Jesus' example, we need to look for opportunities to engage and disarm those around us. We must seek the balance in our life for the dual imperatives of holiness and relevance. When we live our lives to the full, in joy and freedom, we are disarming. We are real. And we win affection for Christ.

Have you experienced disarming someone for Christ? How do you engage in your culture without diluting Christ's message or falling into your own sinful patterns?

October09, 2009 at 1:22 PM

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