Monday, October 26, 2015

Why Your Pastor Should Be a Vampire

Halloween is just around the corner, which means it would be a great time for you to watch a marvelously entertaining recent vampire movie.

It's a comedy out of New Zealand entitled What We Do In the Shadows.

It's not technically horror, but a silly, surprisingly endearing comedy about a quartet of vampires living together in a shared house.  It's considerably bloodier and with two hundred and seventy five percent more death than most comedies, and I don't commend it for family movie night, but hey.  It is entirely worth a watch.

Among the many funny moments was a riff on a classic part of the vampire myth.  Unlike zombies, werewolves, and other monstrous critters, vampires can't get you unless you let them.  Meaning: they are constitutionally incapable of stepping over the threshold of your home unless you welcome them in.  If you say no, or just don't make the offer, they stay out.  They must stay out.

That vampire ethic resonated interestingly against one of my core principles as a pastor and follower of Jesus.

Because there are similiarities between myself and vampires.  I mean, what do I do?  What's my profession?  I roam the earth, trying to share the secret of eternal life that I received from the one who turned me.  I have an intense relationship with crosses, crucifixes, and holy water.  Once a month, I gather with others, and we hold this ceremony where we drink blood.

Admittedly, I neither catch on fire nor sparkle in the sun, but my pasty Celtic flesh does burn in the light of day, so that sort of counts.

The similarity goes deeper, because I share that peculiar vampire ethic about boundaries.

Because it matters to me that your response to faith is authentic, I won't kick down your door to give what I have to you.  If you don't invite me in, I'll stay out.

This confuses many Americans, who are used to quite the opposite.  The expectation, as of late, is that Christians are the ones who chase after you relentlessly, who come at you and come at you and come at you.  They pursue you, overwhelm you, and then eat your brains.

I'm not that kind of Christian.  Those folks are the zombie Christians.  There are hordes and hordes of them lately, I'll admit.  But they are nowhere near as cool, and tend to rot away to nothing in the heat of summer, or freeze solid when winter comes.

I need you to take the step of opening up before I share what I have been given.  I will encourage you, call out to you, and make the path as clear and as attractive as I can.  But I will not hunt you down, or kick in your door.

I just won't.  Because the form of eternal life we Jesus folk offer--one radically grounded in God's love and Christ's compassion--necessarily respects your boundaries, and honors your thresholds.  That's how love works.

You have to open up your door, and welcome it in.