Dear West – 21 February 2019

Dear West Family

This last week I had the privilege of doing quite a few pastoral visits and just general hangouts with a number of members of our wonderful congregation. It is one the greatest privileges of my job and one of the tremendous blessings of being part of such a diverse and gifted preaching team. As it turns out, spending time with people is time well spent. It is something that we actually have to remind ourselves of in our bustling and endlessly distracted era.

One of the most enjoyable hangouts was with a friend at a very hip coffee shop in our crazy city. I mean, this place was next level hip. It was everything “anti-the-man” that they could possibly fathom and it was full of the coolest young things this city has to offer. Well, it also had two suburban dads in sensible trousers sitting on a bench in the sun looking very out of place. I loved watching all of the comings and goings and all of the posturing and performing. It was like a performance art show with a $7 latte.

There were lots of young men and women seemingly dressed like manual laborers. The irony of course is that I don’t think much labor of any sort was taking place, but they looked the part. Mustaches, knitted beanies, dungarees (or what you call overalls), work boots, hand rolled cigarettes. It was a construction site without the cat calling and well, the construction. One dude (and I am not making this up) even wore a tool belt around his no doubt vegan diet induced skinny waist, and in it he carried a cell phone and electric cigarette thingymabob.

I went home equal part amused and exhausted. You see, it is exhausting all this coolness. All this posturing is a lot of hard work. It takes a lot of effort to try and make the point that you aren’t making any effort, and for a generation that insists that you have to let people be exactly as they want to be, they sure all looked like they were trying to fit in to a prescribed set of norms. We all do, it turns out. My generation’s fashion norms may have been a little less ironic, but they were driven by the same energy sapping impulse of pretense nonetheless.

As I drove away from hipster central and back to the sanctity of the burbs, I thanked the Lord for the fact that I have the opportunity to be secure in the gospel if only I would take it. I could dress like a manual laborer if I wanted to, but I really don’t have to. That is good news for all of us, and it means that I won’t need to be dusting off a pair of dungarees any time soon, although it does have me considering a mustache.

You see, I have spent most of my life desperately trying to fit in and to be accepted by people who didn’t even care about me all that much. That is immense folly for children of grace. I don’t want to waste any more time and energy on that. I long to be able to say with the apostle Paul, “…by the grace of God, I am what I am”. That isn’t a prideful arrogance that refuses to be changed. That is a humble acceptance of the acceptance of God. That is a truly liberating thing! That is a freedom I desire.

Dear friends. Take a deep breath. You don’t have to put up the crazy pretense to fit in. God knows who you are behind it all, and he loves you anyway. Let’s enjoy the freedom of that. Even if that means our next coffee hangout is perfectly at peace selling out to the corporate man at the local Starbucks.

See you Sunday.

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