I know… hang with me. I don’t know where you were or what you were doing. Maybe it was a sermon on their website. Maybe it was at the Ballard campus or UW campus. Maybe you went simply to check out the girls or guys. Maybe you heard a CD of the music or attended a community group.
I don’t know how it started for you. For me it was 2003. A hot chick, I was totally into, sent me a link and said check it out. So I checked it out. At first, I didn’t like it, but if it impressed this girl, than whatever. I didn’t like it because the guy preaching kept describing me in unflattering terms. There were reasons I lived in my mom’s basement and didn’t have a car or a job. Yeah, so, I was 23 and had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. I didn’t want to grow up. And no, my intentions with that hot girl were not honorable. I kept listening because it pissed me off. Then I hopped on a bus and headed there one Sunday morning. I might run into the hot girl.
That led to more and more visits. That led to a community group. I got a job and a car. Taking the bus to Ballard from Renton was too difficult. It took over two hours. I would stay out in Ballard all Sunday. I got bored attending all the services, so I started to volunteer. I made plans to move out of my parents house. I did.
I started to admit to people that I didn’t think I was actually as awesome as I tried to seem. That I had guilt and shame. They prayed for me. Hot girl gave me a bible for Easter. I read it.
Then I got really nervous. The preacher had tricked me. He challenged my very idea of what a man was. And somehow lured me into all kinds of difficult work I didn’t want to do. People started asking me about the hot girl and should I be singling her out? What were my intentions?
And one Sunday I realized it was all a trick. The real reason the preacher described manhood the way he did was just to get me out here to Ballard, to join this cult. He kept mentioning Jesus with all his attacks on my manhood. What does it have to do with Jesus? Jesus didn’t have a job or a wife. He loved everybody and served. He wandered around and gave advice and healed people. All this talk about responsibility and masculinity didn’t have anything to do with Jesus…..did it?
Then the dumb preacher said something I couldn’t believe. Apparently Jesus mentioned Jonah and the fish like it was real. What nonsense, what backward thinking nonsense! This hillbilly preacher is just stuck in the 50’s with his literal bible and mod clothes and family values.
So I stopped going. I went to the community group still, but not church. After two Sundays, a guy I knew asked me why I hadn’t been there. I blustered. Where did THAT guy get off. The guy told me off right there in front of other guys. I went back the next week.
What was happening? When did a community ever care about me? Or me it?
Alright preacher dude. And hot girl. And rude guy. If Jesus says Jonah was real, then the entire Old Testament is real; six day creation, burning bush, talking donkey – when did I learn all these stories? Anyway, if Jesus says its true then its true because Jesus is the son of God and the son of God can’t lie…..wait, what?
I was baptized a few months later. I told Bent Meyer, in my Elder interview, that I wanted to be a pastor, but that given my history, no one would want me to be. Bent explained with tears and a firm grip on my arm, that the old man who was going down in that water would never rise again. A new man would and Jesus is the only one God would ever see when God looked at me.
Seattle needs that voice. That voice that preaches Jesus. That voice that says this is Jesus, He is King and because He is king the Bible is true. Because He is king men should act like men – there is so much father hunger. Because Jesus is God and not those multitudes of Idols that you faun over and whore after. That voice around which an entire community was built for Jesus, doing Jesus’ work in a wilderness hell-hole of a city. That voice that slew the dragons in my heart with that one word – Jesus.
Here in poofdom, where it’s harder and harder to tell the difference between a man and a woman, straight and gay, evil and good – we need that voice more than ever. We need a community built around that voice that is always preaching and teaching that same word – Jesus. We need men who lead by following Jesus and women who follow Jesus by following their man. This is a wilderness that needs that voice.
Don’t you remember? Wasn’t it glorious? It wasn’t perfect, I know, but it didn’t need to be, because we had the Gospel. But for a time there was a loud, strong, male voice, bible in hand – swinging his claymore with both hands like William Wallace II – crushing the head of Satan in us seattleites with that one beautiful powerful word – Jesus.