David Kneip led our Growth Group Leaders’ training last night. It was excellent (not to mention free pizza!). It looks like we are ready to go for another semester of great Growth Groups. We had a great sign-up and a good mixture of groups. [Sidenote: if you haven't signed up for a group, it isn't too late. You can still sign up for one during church tomorrow].
Bill Steele and I are leading a guy’s group based on the life of King David on Sunday afternoons and then Kelly and I are doing a marriage growth group based on the book His Needs/Her Needs. Of course I plan on leading the group with the following emphasis: HIS NEEDS / her needs. Just kidding.
One last thought. We just came back from Caleb’s Upward Bounds basketball game. Always fun to watch the kids play. One thing I like about the Upward Bounds organization is that at the end of every game they give little stars to every player (e.g., best offense, defense, effort, etc.). The white star is “most Christlike.” I always thought it would be kind of funny as a Pastor that if my kid were to ever win the “most Christlike” star (which he hasn’t so far!) as a joke I would act really upset and frustrated that it wasn’t “best offense” (but that is just my own twisted mind).
But, every time the “most Christlike“ star is given out, the comment is always made…”so-and-so gets the most Christlike star because they were so nice to everybody… (or something like that).” My question - is that the view of Christlikeness that we want to portray? I know they are just six year olds and I really do think it is sweet. I’m making a larger point beyond Upward Bounds basketball… what if that is the message, even maybe the only consistent message, they hear growing up …being like Jesus is about being nice. Is that Christlikeness? Was Jesus really “nice” to everyone? Is that the attribute that we hold up beyond any other? I’m curious how many men have rejected the call to follow Jesus because in their mind the perpetual image held up was a “melba-toast-continually-emasculated-male-whose-main-mission-in-life-was-to-smile-sweetly-and-attempt-to-be-nice to everyone.” Wasn’t he the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, riding on a horse with a sword in mouth to bring an end to his enemies…or the dude who declared he would be the source of great conflict…or the guy who flipped over tables and handled a whip…or the dude that looked at some religious hypocrites and called them a bunch of snakes…or turned to his disciples and signed in frustration over their perpetual lack of faith, etc.
Maybe we should rethink this whole being like Jesus is really about “being nice.” A few great resources on this topic is John Eldridge, Wild at Heart and David Murrow, Why Men Hate Going to Church. I wonder how many men would follow after Jesus if their picture were an accurate Jesus and not the one they grew up with that made Jesus’ ultimate charateristic…”Mr. niceguy.” Don’t nice guys always finish… Check out some of these pictures of nice-guy Jesus.