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Christian Mischief

So what is a Mischievous Christian? Well, firstly, it's a phrase I created to describe myself because people (especially Christians, I've noticed) always get uncomfortable and a little cranky when they can't attach a label to me. In introducing myself to others, I invariably meet Christians who want to know if I'm (a) Christian, (b) really a Christian, (c) a saved-by-Jesus-Christ-through-a-personal-relationship-with-Him Christian, and then (d) conservative or progressive--and being the wrong designation in the wrong company instantly arouses doubt about (a), (b), and (c).

I started saying, "I'm a Mischievous Christian" in an attempt to derail the spiritual segregation process while simultaneously providing an accurate summary of my spiritual state. I keep hoping that people will spontaneously begin to think outside the box upon encountering such a specimen as myself. They don't. They just get uncomfortable and cranky and try to proceed down the (a)-(b)-(c)-(d) identification process again. I've come to realize: that's all most people know how to do.

Here's the deal. I am absolutely, wholly, completely, permanently, and stubbornly devoted to Christ Jesus, the Incarnate demonstration of God. I am also fiercely dedicated to engaging in the kinds of mischief that Jesus instigated. He kept insisting that His disciples must imitate Him and innovate on their own and live freaky-radical-amazing lives of love and invite as many people as possible to join the fun. Seriously. Read the Gospels. It's all right there.

We are supposed to turn the world upside-down. We were meant to wreak havoc with the status quo, and live in a community of common humanity with our neighbors (whoever they may be, and wherever they may show up), and uncommon camaraderie with our God. Then we institutionalized ourselves as Church, and reinstitutionalized, repeatedly, and now (for the most part) we're only interested in being the right kind of person so we can cry "Saved!" at the final roll call and hold ourselves apart from everyone else in the meantime. Well, if we can convince people to get their names down on the good-list too, that's worth bonus points. Kudos to those missionaries.

Okay, yes, I'm being rather sarcastic and overgeneralizing. But my point is, when I threw in my lot with Jesus and His disciples, I was expecting to be part of the continuing action I observed in the Bible. And I was. I kept finding the most amazing people who were doing tremendous good: serving, teaching, loving, feeding, clothing, educating, encouraging, sacrificing, maturing, growing, visiting, healing, creating, expressing, worshipping, playing, rejoicing, mourning, comforting, counseling, peacemaking, partying, building, celebrating, resting, praying, laughing, singing, dancing, opposing, rescuing, defending, changing, mischief-making--living in the name of God.

And then I saw other Christians crucify these people.

I witnessed this no less than eight times, and probably more than that, but hey, who's counting? I've only been a Christian for nine years. Four of these trashed individuals were my mentors at the time they were summarily shredded for rocking the churchian boat with spiritual excellence. I was learning ministry and Christlikeness from them, what it means to be a Christian, what it means to be human, how one goes about loving God. You know, little things like that.

For quite a while, after noticing the pattern here, I was angry and afraid. I am drawn to the Christian mischief-makers because I am one myself. I was certain that if I were to step out in their wake--in Christ's wake, for crying out loud!--that I would also suffer their fate. Taking up my cross to follow Him took on a whole new meaning. I never hear anyone really preach about this anymore: following Christ so exactly that one actually ends up in Gethsemene and Golgotha oneself. I never expected so many Christians to be stark, raving Pharisees.

But I look at the Gospels now and I see that walking this path is what being a Christian is. This is the definition of being a "little Christ." Among Jesus' last words to His disciples, is a prayer for them and those who come after them:

"I have given them the glory that You gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and You in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent me and have loved them even as You have loved me."*

I am continuing to realize that I can't run away from the cross any more than Jesus could--if this kind of unity in love with God and the world is my hope and my aim. I did run, for a while. Hurt and fear does that to me; escape is instinctual. But at least I'm not alone in this: the original disciples bugged out too.

Anyway, what I've learned from all this is that we can't make good mischief from the outskirts of town. We've got to be in the thick of things, embracing our calling and being what we profess to love. So now I just lay it all out in the open. I say, "I am a Mischievous Christian." Sure, it's a riddle. People don't have a clue what I'm talking about at first. It's awful that a Christian has to designate herself this way, that Western Christians are no longer assumed be be making mischief for the glory of God (although I know plenty of folks who agree that Christians are very good at making misery in God's name). But I intend to do what I can to embrace the faith I cannot walk away from--or run away from, for that matter. I must simply trust that resurrection follows execution.

I am a Mischievous Christian.


*John 17:22-23 TNIV

SpecialAgentLira SpecialAgentLira 26-30, F 7 Responses Sep 5, 2008

Your Response


Oh, my gosh, this is so amazing. I can totally relate to everything. Finally someone put into words what I could not! :D Thank you sooooo so so much!

Thank you for this. I am new on EP and wanted to some find some fellow followers of Jesus (not necessarily "Christians," many of whom seem to follow someone else entirely!).

Me too, thanks for sharing this :-)

When I saw your post, which I loved I thought of this post I read in November by Joel Kontinen<br />
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Christianity, the “Mischievous Superstition” that Conquered the World <br />
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The Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus (AD 56 – ca. AD 117) was definitely no fan of Christianity. In his Annales he described “a most mischievous superstition” that had spread from Judea all the way to Rome: <br />
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“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.” <br />
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Tacitus was referring to a fire that burnt much of Rome in AD 64. His characterisation of Christianity – abominations, a mischievous superstition, source of the evil, hideous and shameful –shows the bias many people have had in a faith that is unlike all other faiths. <br />
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Predicting the manner of His death, Jesus had said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” (John 12:32). The gospel has indeed spread among most people groups, but the Great Commission of taking the message of the Cross to the ends of the earth has not yet been completed. <br />
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Writing a decade or so before Tacitus, the apostle Paul explained what the non-Christian world thought of the gospel: “For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeksfoolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1: 22-24). <br />
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The only way of testing the veracity of the claims of the gospel is by believing it. As Jesus said: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31). <br />
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Far from being a mischievous superstition, Christianity is in reality a radical way – the only way humans can have access to the God who has revealed Himself in the Bible. <br />
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sc<x>ripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Brilliant. <br />
He that is born of the flesh persecutes he that is born of the spirit.<br />
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Simply put...The carnal man persecutes the spirituial man.

Thank you for the virtual gift. Also, I LOVE this story. Thank you for writing it. I am sure many of us can relate to it.

Wow, if you had a church I'd go there. I agree completely. I think when you look at the words and works of Christ and his band of brothers and sisters they are, in many instances, completely out of step with what modern 'Christian' institutions are doing.<br />
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I can't imagine it, but hardly. This best example of all men, incarnate God, who went around his homeland and spent the majority of his time railing against the conservative, lifeless, religious establishments of His day, is now chiefly followed by those same types.<br />
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I take great joy in reading the words of Christ and then I look out into the world and see the pharisaical nonsense that grips most of His followers and wonder: 'Why do they bother?' They drive more people away than they take under their wing. It's a sad state. I love your words! Fight the good fight, I'm there with you; maybe we can chase some money changers from the temple!