I'm coming to the realization that I am more comfortable with the oddly innapropriate and flamboyantly eccentric, even the theologically porous-who clumsily find themselves hungering and thirsting for the Room of Grace, than I am with the intimidatingly, smugly together and aloof, airtight proponents of the Room of Good Intentions.
I just returned from two days of filming television shows with Jim Bakker. I've never met anyone even nearly like him. On just about everything I had judged him all those years, I was wrong. He has admitted to great wrong in his life, but was ultimately exonerated of any wrong doing by a jury for the verdict that landed him in prison. An incredible lawyer from Duke defended him, calling it the greatest miscarriage of justice he'd seen in the last 50 years. And now Jim has an insatiable passion, driven energy and magnificent dreams of what he can still do on this planet. He owns little but is compelled to create facilities and a healthy infrastructure that will allow the young people he is training in broadcast media to take over his show, in their way.
But his methods and causes are as similar to mine as cobalt- enfused wheat is to a lunar eclipse. He crusades for unconventional nutritional health, and for disaster preparedness, some from his conviction of coming Biblical catastrophe. Neither of these are of any particular significant interest to me. He promoted our books as part of a package that included his own soy butter. Soy butter. (It was really good) He is a transparent mess of sharing vulnerable pain that I'd probably save for a few. He cries at the drop of a hat. Even if there were no hat nearby he'd cry. From outside he can appear comical. He's an easy target for mockers.
But he is becoming a dear friend. And I'm very proud of it. He and his wife Lori and almost the entire staff and team with him are devouring The Cure. They study the videos in the study guide for their film classes. They underline and mark up the book like those trying to ingest a survival guide before walking into the outback. They have an on site choir most of the staff sings in. Their rehearsal contained some of the most powerfully beautifully sung music I'd ever heard. Then afterwards, they surrounded me and prayed over me for my heart and what I would speak the next several days. I went to bed deeply convicted at how small my concept has been of who "gets" life. I'm weary and leery of a faith reserved for only the cool, hip and appropriate. This Original Good News sometimes travels most quickly with those I'd look past.
I had such incredibly good time sharing life and hearts with them on set, at dinners and with the various wonderful new friends who served me with such kind and honoring love. And in all our conversations and telling of our deepest sadnesses and greatest joys, never once, have we ever felt the need to belittle or correct the other about our potential differences in theology or approach to ministry. Over time I imagine we'll earn the permission to protect each other in areas that might harm the other or unwittingly cause error. This trip, we just got to love each other well. I will visit them again. Stacey and I probably will return to hang out. Bill and Bruce might return to train their teams, giving them some actual content and wisdom.
I wonder if this whole journey has nothing to do with station or hipness or style or appearance, or lack of it. I wonder if the citizens of the Room of Grace include every office, role, title and postion. I wonder if I will find them everywhere, in every place, in every setting, in every style and socio-political-economic setting. I wonder if the common denominator for those I feel safest with is the humbled conviction of trusting Christ in me, who adores me; to mature the already changed me-rather than performing for Christ so He'll one day change me and perhaps be pleased enough with me.
Maybe I'm becoming more comfortable with the "oddly innapropriate and flamboyantly eccentric, even the theologically porous-who clumsily find themselves hungering and thirsting for the Room of Grace"-because I very much resemble that remark myself.
Anyway, thank you for loving me, for loving us, regardless of where this message takes us. It means everything.
John, one of the three amigos, part of the ever-growing tribe of grace...