Sunday, April 30, 2006

Nick Payne: Born Again Party Animal?

On Friday night I went out for my mate's birthday. Initially the night consisted of the three of us (Rob, Mike and myself) sitting in the Three Tuns pub and chatting about life the universe and everything. However, Rob and I both moved on after about 10:30pm and decided to make a bee-line for the White Lion to shoot some pool... but when we got there we discovered the table had money on it for a few games and there was a bloke playing cheesy music very loudly on an electric piano. We turned about and headed for another pub.

Goodness only knows how, but we ended up in The Bear... and instead of going into the pool table area we somehow got lured into a raised section where there was a DJ playing dance music. Rob decided to go with the flow and ended up dancing around with the other locals. I stood leaning against the loudspeakers clutching my J20 orange and passionfruit drink as if my life depended on it. At the time there were only a couple of girls and one bloke on the dancefloor... but they were really into their dancing. Feeling like a sore thumb, I finished my drink and started giving it a go. It's been years since I danced. At school I was always teased about it... and the last girl I had a long term relationship with was a party pooper (to put it mildly, or a sucubbus to put it more accurately if a lot more harshly) and remained solidly glued to her chair at any given party. So gradually I lost the inclination to just go with the moment and hence, I never really got back into dancing. On Friday though, I decided I could sit there like a prune, or go down the road less travelled by... so I hit the floor and got moving.

As I started, you could hear the long redundant joints creaking away... but eventually I grew in boldness and was moving more fluidly... as fluidly as a 6'4" lanky person with a high centre of gravity gets. Last night was very much a healing experience for me. I realised it didn't matter how stupid I looked as most people were just having a good time and any mockers were probably too drunk to notice. I got to a point where I was assertive enough not to care about what others thought... and I think it showed. Other people danced around me... even girls (Wooo... GO ME!!)

So it was that, gradually as other people saw that two grown men were prepared to attempt the humorous institution that is known as "the white man's dance", they too were encouraged to join in. Soon the floor pulsated with the constant ebb and flow of dancers weaving in and out of one another's personal space. Rob has described such scenarios as "meat factories" and it wasn't that hard to see why.

In that situation, I think for the first time I truly understood what it means to be in the world but not of the world. I knew what it meant in my head and heart before... but this was really the first time I had felt that power in action in my life. I was on foreign soil and yet I felt like I had a teflon coating. I was fully cognitive because I don't drink, so I was relatively safe from any potential danger. One potential danger I spotted was that a lot of girls dance alone and on the surface appear to be single (not that I was going to make a move), but on closer inspection you notice they have boyfriends in the shadows. I can see how this can be a source of conflict... because the lines are blurred and somebody could easily misread signals and move on someone who is in a relationship.

For me, the highlight of the time I spent there was definitely when the DJ played the Proclaimers "I'm Gonna Be (500 miles)" over the speakers. There I was jumping up and down singing to to the top of my voice:

"But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
To fall down at your door
fa la la la (fa la la la)
fa la la la (fa la la la)
Da Da Da Dun Diddle Un Diddle Un Diddle Uh Da Da
fa la la la (fa la la la)
fa la la la (fa la la la)
Da Da Da Dun Diddle Un Diddle Un Diddle Uh Da Da"

I tell you I brought the room to life! LOL!

I've never agreed with legalistic Christians who believe in blanket banning every other believer from going to pubs, bars and clubs. I agree that there are some Christian's who should never go... people who have a problem with self control and who are liable to stumble, are who I am principally thinking of. However, to say no Christians should go to pubs is folly. Jesus, our Great Light, the Light of the World, went into those places himself. He gave us that light and we are expected to take it into the darkness.

Where is the sanity in shining a torch in a well lit room? Are torches not designed for the outside, where there is no light?

Do fishermen let down their nets while they are still in the harbour?

We go to Church to to get fed, to recharge our torches and to repair and maintain our boats... to keep the tools of our ministries in good condition. I fear many Christians fall into the trap of letting their Church community become the single contributer to their social circles... when this happens, Church can become more about cliques and socialising than being about the equipping of the saints.

I know of an old lady who shamed a young man from her church who exited a pub. She told him that as a Christian, he should be ashamed of himself.

I would argue that she too should be ashamed of herself. She was being judgemental. If that man had come out drunk and disorderly, she would have had a valid point. However, if that man had gone into that place and retained his integrity, he may well have had opportunity to befriend people and maybe even witness... which is of far more use than standing aside and pointing the finger.

Its all very well to talk of righteousness and lecture on what is right and what is wrong... but it is only by putting into practice ourselves, in the wider world... that people notice any difference. It's the only way they see Jesus.

Jesus ate and drank with sinners. He did not consider them so lowly as to commune with them in public. He went even further, at Cana he provided some of the alcohol - the best vintage too. People seem to rose tint the era Christ lived in as being refined.... it wasn't, it was as raw as it is today. The Romans and the Greeks before them, were hedonistic and very open minded. Every day, as an occupied nation, the Jews would have seen sights that were highly offensive to their native culture.

Somehow, Jesus and his apostles not only coped in this climate... they thrived in it. This is because they were God centred and knew that He who was in them was greater than he who was in the world. They were full of the Holy Spirit

Its not by our convincing words, clever theology or pontification that people see Christ. As the old hymn says: they will know we are Christians by our love. People see Jesus by seeing righteousness and love at work in ourselves... not just by what we say. We have to demonstrate the love and righteous principles of God through our own lives.

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

Point the finger and you condemn, show them through your own life what Jesus does... and you show them the light... giving them a chance to come to salvation.

"Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Some preachers use that verse negatively - "No go, no lo" they say (If you don't go to the people, Jesus won't be with you). However I say "Lo... so go!" We already have the promise that Jesus is with us by the presence of the Holy Spirit, we should therefore live up to what we already have attained through Him.



Have to say praise to the Lord who is diminishing my fears daily.

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