Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Suburbia: Out of the Danger Zone

How much does danger fuel our training of others for kingdom-of-God work?

Oops! Did I write "danger"? What's gotten into me?

In Mark 1:14 we read, "After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee...'Come, follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men.' "

John, the forerunner, was imprisoned. Danger.
This triggered Jesus into aggressive calling and training of others. Discipling.

In Mark 3:6 we read, "Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus." A few verses later Mark informs us, "He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons" (verses 3:14-15).

A plot to murder Jesus is hatched. Danger.
Jesus selects and begins training the Twelve. Discipling.

Between Mark 3:6 and 3:13 we learn that people were swarming to Jesus from all over--from the north, south, east and west. The Jerusalem religious mafia was thoroughly informed about Jesus' fame and impact. The danger is taking a life of its own.

But that was then. This is now...

It's seven p.m. The living room is cozy. What is USAmerican discipleship like, particularly in suburbia? How much urgency permeates the process? Is there any urgency at all that is ignited by real danger? We sip our coffee, eat our snacks, and read our "lessons" and fill in the blanks of our cool workbooks, wondering if this will be over before "24" starts. Oh, there's the urgency. There is more danger and urgency in a one hour TV show than there is in a whole year of Americanized, suburbanized discipleship.

Why the urgency and danger in an artificial show like "24"? Probably in order to show that with terrorism lives are at stake. Oh.

Good thing lives are not at stake in Christian discipleship. We can vicariously live urgently and dangerously through "Lost," "24," or "CSI."

Back to our version of dicipleship:

1. Jesus chose how many disciples? ________ Why that number?

[Oooo, oooo, I know. Pick me, pick me!]

2. What does the word "disciple" mean? (circle one)
clergy person/missionary/person likely to get killed

3. Extra credit: who is discipling you?

4. Extra, extra credit: who are you discipling?
[workbooks are for sale]

I smell the coffee. Isn't this fun? What time is it?

Danger? You've got to be kiddin' me. I'm into the pleasure-driven life. Oops! I'm sorry. Did I write "pleasure"? I meant....



At 1/31/2007 6:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey John,

Great post! And convicting! While I would never actively seek out danger, I certainly do not often engage in the kinds of actions of Jesus and the disciples that "create" danger toward me from the establishment.

I have to admit, sometimes, I focus WAY more on blogging with people, trying to make a point, trying to open eyes, trying to learn what others think. When in reality, I'll bet that spending one evening at a soup kitchen or sheltering an unwed mother would "enlighten" me and bring kingdom living into my life far better and faster than trying to have all the right answers!

It's so easy for me to be the kind of Christian I want to be from the comfort of my recliner with my laptop warming my legs.

I need to find the happy medium between knowing what's right and doing what's right.

Keep 'em coming, brother!

At 1/31/2007 7:20 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

That is the dilemma--there seems to be something inherently dangerous in kingdom-of-God work, yet we're not to be crazies who seek danger.

Your comments are convicting, too, especially your second and third paragraphs.

Is suburbia a narcotic?

At 1/31/2007 7:33 AM, Blogger Cheryl said...


I know you were speaking metaphorically, but I don't know that it's "suburbia" per se, but of course, what suburbia represents: the smack middle, lukewarm distance between the "ugliness" of the dangerous downtown inhabitants and the "hardship" and total dependence on nature/God in eking out a living from the land.

I'm not a big fan of capitalism (and no, not in the "I hate America" way), but in the way that it creates the survival-of-the-strongest mentality among even us who are supposed to be all about community and taking care of "the least of these."

And yes, there's something narcotic-like in the middle of the captialistic spectrum. You don't have to fight to stay on top, nor do you have to fight to put food on the table. The "American dream," I'm afraid, seems to come in a package that includes rose-colored glasses, a haz-mat suit, and sleeping pills.

I'm rambling and have work to do, so I'd better stop. :)

At 1/31/2007 7:46 AM, Blogger John Frye said...

I hope and pray that there is a way to avoid the lethargy of suburbanized discipleship. As far as capitalism goes, I've heard of the devastation of Ukraine under socialism/communism, so I don't fault capitalism per se, but our reluctance to face the underbelly of capitalism.

At 1/31/2007 7:54 AM, Blogger Cheryl said...

Yeah, any time I speak about capitalism and my problems with it, I understand that communism works well "in theory." It's when you throw those pesky humans into it that it fails. :)

I do believe that the first century church was communist. It's pretty clear to me. But I'm sure it had its breakdowns too, again because of the self-serving ways of humans.

I don't have a "better" way of being in society than capitalism. I just think it brings out the worst traits of greed and materialism in all of us. And then when we deign to question the morality of it, we're almost considered unpatriotic. It's all so woven in with being "American" and hard working and all the good stuff, that it easily blinds us to its dark underbelly.

That's all I meant. :)

At 1/31/2007 7:55 AM, Blogger Cheryl said...

I just realized you used "underbelly" as well on my re-read of your last post. I swear I didn't remember it and didn't mean to be repetitious, but I'm thinking, great minds and all that.... :)

At 1/31/2007 9:24 AM, Blogger Linda said...

If you're having an altar call, I'm running to the front!

Forget danger, I'm struggling just with inconvenience and a fear of being overwhelmed with the needs of others.

At 1/31/2007 9:32 AM, Blogger John Frye said...


"And now as the kwi-ah sings, I wantja ta come. Come like a little child would do. You come. But you say, 'John, I'm with friends.' If you're with friends, they'll wait. Yes, they're the thou-sands. You come."

How are ya', Grace?

At 1/31/2007 7:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can learn about who Jesus is at Who is Jesus?
An article of Jesus is on an encyclopedia at Jesus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

peace out
eric martin

At 1/31/2007 7:47 PM, Blogger John Frye said...

Eric Martin,
The "Who is Jesus" link wasn't helpful at all. And I am a little suspicious of the learning about Jesus from Wikipedia. But thanks for the thought.

At 4/13/2007 6:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Danger. Great word. Thanks for bringing it into light. Here is a quote I thought I'd share:

     "The great danger facing all of us… is not that we shall make an absolute failure of life, nor that we shall fall into outright viciousness, nor that we shall be terribly unhappy, nor that we shall feel [that] life has no meaning at all—not these things. The danger is that we may fail to perceive life’s greatest meaning, fall short of its highest good, miss its deepest and most abiding happiness, be unable to tender the most needed service, be unconscious of life ablaze with the light of the Presence of God—and be content to have it so—that is the danger: that some day we may wake up and find that always we have been busy with husks and trappings of life and have really missed life itself. For life without God, to one who has known the richness and joy of life with Him, is unthinkable, impossible. That is what one prays one’s friends may be spared—satisfaction with a life that falls short of the best, that has in it no tingle or thrill that comes from a friendship with the Father."

    … Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), Sermons [1878]

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