Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Soloist

This movie should be delivered from the pulpit.

I had a church service in my living room a couple Sunday morning's ago. It was between loads of laundry while some of the week’s meals simmered on my stove top. I have the luxury of doing this most every Sunday morning now that my family meets at Kaio on Sunday nights and my family likes to sleep in.

The message of the movie was summed up in this line, "You're never going to cure so-and-so. Just be his friend and show up."
"Friends sometimes piss each other off," was a supporting statement.

I think,
when I think,
that this one is a good litmus test.

Am I close enough to her or him to piss them off? Close enough that they piss me off? God may it be so. Let me be in his/her life if You would will it.

Just this week I saw an impassioned Facebook status from a Christian man I know. I can't deny that 15 years ago I thought the same way--It makes sense and is actually easier than it's alternative.

"You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." James 4:4 (ESV)
He followed it up with a few paragraphs of commentary, a couple more verses and a quote from Matthew Henry. He wrote well and I understood what he was saying because I used to live within this context also.
I was saddened by the “Amen’s” from other Christians and caught myself, deep down, elevating my arguments and myself to the highest most holy height that these Christians just couldn't understand.
I wanted to respond and Randy wisely told me it would suck me into a debate/argument that this man seems to thoroughly enjoy. That wisdom was from Jesus through my husband.
So I sat on it, and the next day I looked more closely at who “liked/agreed” with this man's post and it turned my heart from judgment and I had compassion, which was definitely Jesus.
I saw a man who has been hurt by the world’s recent infringement on his family’s life and I understood. I, too, have been deeply hurt by the world's sin.

However, I have been just as deeply wounded by sin within the church.
Sin is sin is sin.

If you think about it, friendship is just plain messy and it's not just messy with the world “out there”.

Why did we ever think we needed to steer clear from the world's people?

I think it is fear and mis-applied pieces of scripture; look at Jesus' life. Look at Paul's life and the other apostles and remember that EVERYONE they went to was an unbeliever. Once church's started to form, they then went to them to teach about their need to war against "the world"--but NOT the people of the world.
Frankly, it is natural to overlook the world that wars inside of us against the Spirit, and look for a culprit with skin on. We disregard the great commission by viewing the people of the world as the enemy.

When I think about messy relationships the context is changing; I've begun to see that it can work in the church. Being honest, side-by-side, about shortcomings and failures is different then being exposed by another person's malice or insecurity--which is the fear that keeps these things in the dark instead of bringing them into the Light. True community is a “messy blessing”; it is a chance to realize how "in the same boat we all are" and how much we all need Jesus.
You need Jesus desperately.
I need Jesus desperately.
Neither of us has arrived, but in His great plan, God still uses us in our weakness to befriend others who haven't met Him yet.

Knowing we all sin and struggle and overcome by the Spirit is a starting place. The starting place used to be handing out tracts, inviting disinterested unbelievers to church, creating programs and antiseptically dealing with the world out there.

In the movie, the reporter who lived uptown had a similar response to the homeless musician.
It is natural to want to help and try to "do good by him" because he obviously had more and was more privileged. Natural responses usually need to be unlearned.
The homeless shelter director’s idea was that this man did not need an evaluation to determine his sickness so he could be fixed with medication. He just needed a friend.
The reporter's response - “Your program is ******!”

In other words, It’s NOT ENOUGH… to just be friends.

Sound familiar? Churches who preach loudly from the pulpit that we should not be friends with the people of the world, but instead, "We should Slap a program-band aid on them, keep ourselves clean and pray for the best," frankly need to un-learn this natural response. Inevitably, there is a larger mess under their heavenly lifted noses -- fellow church-members are dying on the vine.

But I digress…or do I?

It has become so interminably entwined….transparency, community, needing Jesus, needing each other, loving the world together as we fully realize we are not “above” or “better” just forgiven and sent.

I hope this movie touches you and moves you along in your journey with those people that only you can touch.


  1. I look forward to watching it. Thank you for blogging, Lori. All programs were created to "reach down" to those who "need help." In many situations this works. However, those who "need help" with eternal matters - those that affect us from the future back toward our present daily lives - include all of us.

    Your response to Bibleman on Facebook was a corrrect response. God has called you to includes debates, conversations, arguments, and other table-tossing conflict management styles. I am so glad you are part of my refinement.

  2. Brooks - When you have led with humble confessions, of late, I have been one who has learned and I am praying for my own personal refinement.

    So thank is good.

  3. i loved the movie, and how it ended. It caught me by surprise. WIthout giving too much away about the movie - he at first wanted to fix him. He at first thought that he was on a platform of stability and wanted his friend to join him on the platform. Once he realized that both of their platforms were equally broken, and equally beautiful, then the friendship became beautiful.

  4. Sounds like I would have enjoyed watching it with you, Rach. I was in tears at the end. It was very beautiful. Your mom now owns it...I gave it to her for her birthday. :)