I Dig Rock ’n’ Roll Music

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Saturday night Marti and I attended a theater/concert event at our local playhouse entitled I Dig Rock ’n’ Roll Music: A Celebration of Folk-rock Then and Now. It was basically a musical guided tour through the years 1962 – 1975 — a time that embodied an incredible pop music explosion of creativity and social commentary.

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What Chandler and Einstein have in common

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Chandler taught me a lesson the other night. Now, if I could just learn it. The lesson is quite simple: I need to do a little less thinking about things and a lot more doing. And I need to trust the gifts of those around me and not have to do everything my way.

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Back to RJ’s Cafe

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Laura

So I’m back at RJ’s Cafe (my Johnny’s). Got here in time for my favorite booth. Only three tables are taken right now. There’s a family with two young kids starting a birthday off with breakfast at RJ’s. A heavy-set bearded man wearing a knit beanie at the table next to me goes over there and says loudly, “Okay, whose birthday is it? How old? Four! I’ve had six kids and four grandkids. That’s why I put on all this weight! Too much birthday cake! Happy Birthday!” Santa Claus couldn’t have done better.

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Don’t judge; join

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Don’t go to Johnny’s Cafe as a missionary to the lost; go as the lost.

If the heart of God is with the lost, where does that leave those who aren’t lost? What about them? What about those 99 other sheep, and the nine coins rattling around in that woman’s purse, and the elder son? What about the people, who, when Jesus talks about the lost, don’t put themselves in that camp? They assume He’s talking about someone else. What about them? What about those who, as Flannery O’Connor describes them, are “those with great dignity, accountable as they [have] always been for good order common sense and respectable behavior?” The parables aren’t about them, but they are in the story just the same, like the Pharisees who were always there, too. Are they really “the righteous who never strayed?” Is there even such a thing?

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The focus of the Father

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Now if Jesus were here I think we’d find Him today

Down at Johnny’s Cafe.

This, of course, is the punchline of the song, and the whole point of it. Get yourself down to Johnny’s Cafe because that’s where the Lord is. We were reminded yesterday that the heart of God is where the lost sheep are, not with those who are already in the fold. “There is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” (Luke 15:7). This is the heart of God. The heart of God is with the lost — the sinners in need of a savior.

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Here’s to the notorious sinners

 

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Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them! Luke 15:1-7

What a ragtag, motley, mixed-up slice of humanity Jesus dragged around with him! First, you have the disciples, who were just a group of fishermen and a tax collector. Then there’s another group of ordinary folks — what we might call blue-collar people. Trailing behind would have been the sick and the infirm. Cripples, beggars, the blind and lame, hoping for a healing touch. Near the front with the disciples would have been some wealthy women who were helping fund Christ’s ministry, and then maybe a few business owners — merchants — what we would call today white collar. And then there are a few curious tax collectors and notorious sinners who are mentioned here. Maybe a few off-duty Roman soldiers who want to know what all the fuss is about. Finally, off to the side and careful not to be associated with the bulk of the crowd, would have been the Pharisees looking on in judgment of Jesus and all these people. But the people they were judging were those who would eventually change the world.

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Coming out of cultural isolation

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If you’ve got nothin’ to say to folks at Johnny’s Cafe

You’ve got nothin’ to say at all

Having nothing to say to the folks down at Johnny’s Cafe has more to do with whether we want to say something versus having anything to say at all. We all have plenty to say at Johnny’s; it’s all about whether we want to say anything or not. It’s mostly about whether we want to engage.

One of the greatest tragedies in Christendom in the last 40 years is that Christians have created a non-biblical value of separation from the surrounding culture. For the longest time it was equated with holiness, but more often than not, it has played into a fear of the world and a desire to remain isolated from that which makes us uncomfortable, or from that which is different. It’s so much easier being around people who believe the same things we believe. You don’t have to work at communicating. You don’t have to endure opinions that run counter to what we believe about the world. You don’t have to endure embarrassing off-color humor.

Being holy — being separate — gave us an excuse for being aloof. And the more we established a Christian subculture, the more we had a legitimate reason to stay away. We formed a reason for and a means of maintaining a lifestyle of cultural isolation. And we liked that. It pretty much let us off the hook in terms of the work required to communicate across cultural borders and barriers.

Now we’ve got a job to do: join the conversation down at Johnny’s Cafe (or wherever it is that you meet the world). Find out what we have in common with those around us. Don’t just join the church and fill your week up with church activities; join the P.T.A. or the soccer club, or the yoga class, or the soup kitchen — anything that throws you into the community and the culture you reside in.

Or get your boots on the ground and go down to Johnny’s Cafe, and don’t isolate yourself in a booth. Sit at the counter — somewhere you can rub shoulders with strangers (hopefully not strangers for long) and find out (which may surprise you), how much you have in common with everyone else. Let’s face it, we’re all worried; we are all afraid; we are all trying to survive; we are all fighting, or sticking our heads in the sand. We all have plenty to say.

I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. 1 Corinthians 9:22

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Nothin’ to say at all

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If you’ve got nothin’ to say to folks at Johnny’s Cafe

You’ve got nothin’ to say at all

Having something to say is all about being able to communicate with anyone, anywhere. It’s about finding what we have in common with people wherever we are.

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