WOW! I've read this book, in theory, before. But Eric has a way of jerking the slack out of your rope and pulling you up short. The title comes from chapter 3 when he tells a story of a birthday party and a pinata. He, like me, is in his own words, "a tightwad". So when buying candy to fill the pinata he found a bargain on peppermints and figured that the kids just want something sweet. He said he learned that day that peppermints do not belong in pinatas.
His analogy is that too often the church does the same thing. "We offer something sweet to believe, they (the unchurched) want a new life that helps change the world." p.61 We think that they are just going to come connect with us, even when we offer something cheap and unsatisfying. Not that the Gospel is cheap and unsatisfying, but the way we package it, and often live it ourselves, gives that impression. "The world too often sees the invitation to connect to the church as irrelevant or at best as involving a cumbersome process." p.61
We at LifePoint want to change this perception, to get back to the basics if you will, to exemplify Christ. We want to live, love, serve as Christ's ambassadors. We can love others, we can have compassion for others, we can even work alongside others, and still retain our identity as a Christian. In fact, I dare to say, we will be more of a Christian if we do.
In the parable of the Samaritan, which God has brought to me several times over the last week or so, the lawyer ask Jesus "and just how would you define 'neighbor'?" Luke 10:29b Msg. The Samaritan was an enemy, but he offered mercy and love to the beaten man, a stranger. I believe we must be willing to go where we are not comfortable, into uncertainty, to serve, to love.
Now, to be brutally honest, this is hard for me. In my mind and heart I get excited and want to run out and get busy, but my personality makes it hard for me to take that step. I have been told I am Choleric/Melancholy and it has both irritated me and thrilled me. There are facets of both of these personalities I embrace, but there are also some that depresses me. I have endeavored to change parts of my personality ever since Lindell answered the call to ministry, but it is a battle daily. But my biggest desire is to be an instrument of God and to leave a legacy of someone who loved and served. So I'm taking steps, often baby steps, and sometimes giant ones. I intend to live large for a large God.