It stands to reason, really. There were only two kinds of people who hopped or were thrown on a boat back in the day and survived the trip to these bountiful shores:
Those who couldn't live by the rules of their homeland.
And those who wouldn't.
With demographics like those, how could we not, as a people, prize and value independent spirits? It's our legacy. It's our common denominator. It's our defining characteristic. America has always danced to the beat of a different drum. Its own. We're the lone hippie at a hip-hop house party. We stand in the concert of the world with headphones on listening to our own playlist. We revel in our rebel image. So much so that we still pride ourselves on a time when, having not been able to even stand our own rules, we thought it more expedient to slaughter six hundred and twenty thousand of our own people over the matter.
Pride rules. Any kind of pride. We pride ourselves in the majority. We pride ourselves in the minority. We pride ourselves on our success, we revel in our outcastness. We say we value team work and community but we turn the cameras upon and throw money at the bad boy, the salacious, the inflammatory, the rebel.
It didn't take me long in the construction trades to realize that all of the owner operators have one thing in common, one over arching personality trait that binds them all together...
They cannot abide another person's rules.
They universally have a problem with authority. It's why they stopped working for other men and started their own business. 'My way or the highway,' will be expressed in any number of phrases, but it's always credal.
It took me a little longer to see this motto lurking behind churches.
Maybe it's a relatively new thing? The church plant movement. The independent church movement. These have seemingly swelled in recent years. But i doubt it. We don't have denominations for nothing. Even our denominations have denominations. i suppose this is a good thing when the parent church has become heretical and needs reformation. But that doesn't always seem to be the case, does it? When we started using phrases like "relevant" and "rockstar pastor" i think we left reformation for holy purposes in the dust. Part of me likes the phrase, "i wanted to create the kind of church i would want to go to." Part of me sees Jesus in, "i looked around and i didn't see a church reaching out to people like me." Jesus came for outcasts: lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors, lame, blind, demon possessed, fisherman, the real dregs of society. My denomination tends to look more like the successful and well adjusted members of society. So there's a disconnect happening somewhere. Possibly, it's in that little word, "look," but there's no denying that for all our efforts and well meaning, we have tended to create clubs for the "like me."
None of this is revolutionary. None of this hasn't been said before by smarter people than me. Most of whom probably had solutions and suggestions to suggest and solute. i don't. i just have a concern over the tribalism i see forming around every self-proclaimed chieftan, the clannishness of our people, the desire to follow any dynamic, charismatic rebel that walks in off the street with a tattoo and a stratocaster ready to rock you to heaven and rewrite the Bible in their own image.
i just have two pleas. Pray and Read.
Pray to see your own sin. And don't stop at the surface. Don't stop at the verbs, the lying, the yelling, the lusting, the partying. Get down through the adjective layer, the selfish, the angry, the fearful and into the septic cistern of our souls. The Pride. The thing in you that makes you want to not just be a chief, but god. See your sin so clearly that it breaks you, that it humbles you, that it makes you so distrustful of your own desires that you no longer are confident to tell another person much less yourself what to do or think or believe...
Except for what you have read and seen and come to know as the Truth in the Word that God himself revealed to us so we would know not what to believe or do or follow but Whom.