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