This weekend was a community — a real, true community — coming together in celebration of life. In celebration of music, of friendship, of happiness, of dance — of spirit, peace, and love. With a deep respect for all that came before, a profound acceptance for what’s happening now, and a shared optimism that everything will be okay.When you read that above paragraph, did you think you were perhaps reading about a weekend worship retreat or an incredible youth camp experience from a spiritually moved teenager? If you did, then you are wrong. Dead wrong.
That paragraph is actually an excerpt of a blog post written by a Grateful Dead fan and it captures her experience at the Dead's farewell concert series in Chicago July 3-6. Let me go ahead and say that while I appreciate the Grateful Dead's music, I would hardly consider myself much of a fan, let alone a celebrated Deadhead. But reading the entire post by this fan got me thinking: How come Christians aren't this excited and captivated by their experience with Jesus?
After all, Jesus' teachings were filled with the themes of loving your neighbor, community, and peace. If you read the book of Acts you will find that the early Christian church was all about looking out for each other and loving their community. A close look at today's Christians and the churches we attend looks more like a heated county commissioner's meeting than it does the body of Christ.
I have lots of friends who don't go to church and have no desire to do so. Over the years as I've carried on conversations with them, only a few have actually expressed a problem with God or Jesus. Instead, their distaste for the Christian faith has everything to do with those people who claim to be followers of Christ but live contrary to His teachings. Makes me wonder how many believers actually take the teachings of Jesus in the Bible to heart or if they even know what Jesus taught.
I realize that it's dangerous to make blanket statements about people and the last thing I want anyone to think is that I'm Throwing Stones at my brothers and sisters. I'm also not saying that Jesus wore Birkenstock's and tie dye shirts. The Grateful Dead music scene hardly points one to salvation through faith in Christ. And while Dead fans do espouse an ethic of love, peace, being nice, and doing the right thing, I've yet to hear any Deadhead explain clearly to me the finer points of Sola scriptura, Sola fide, Sola gratia, Solus Christus, or Soli Deo gloria.
Yet in a weird, groovy kind of way the Grateful Dead and their fans sort of get it. And many Christians, myself included, often seem to be left in a Dark Hollow when it comes to the expression of true love and community that is supposed to under gird our faith in Jesus. Imagine the Ripple that Christians could leave in this world if what we said we believed about Jesus was actually evident in our daily lives.