Monday, September 29, 2008

Countering Our American Culture

In college I had a really good friend named Legesse. He was from Ethiopia, and had actually spent a lot of time in the country of Yemen. When he moved here to America and eventually to college with me he obviously brought with him some foreign mannerisms. For example, in America, if there is open seating at a movie or anywhere, and you are going with a friend, when you sit down you will naturally leave an empty seat or two between you. It’s part of our American culture. We are all about space. Legesse didn’t have that. If I sat down with him in class or at a movie or a conference he would sit right next to me and it felt like almost right on top of me! At first I was very uncomfortable. I didn’t like not having personal space. But after a while it didn’t bother me. And I started to see this lack of personal space as a good thing because literally and figuratively I allowed people to get closer to me.

Why do I bring this story up? Well, there are times to embrace culture and times we need to counter our culture. I noticed we are encountering something phenomenal here at CCC. We are experiencing growth. Not just in maturity (although I think we are), but we are also experiencing God bringing us more people, and with this awesome phenomenon comes some hiccups that we have to deal with. This past Sunday for the first time I sat in the back row at CCC. I noticed that in front of me there were a lot of empty spaces, empty chairs, even some rows that were barren. I realized that just like in high school on the bus everyone seems to cling to the back! I understand Brent smells a little, but come on people! No, but hear me out on this. Imagine you are a new person coming to Community for the first time. You get there but you are a little late. As you quietly open the doors to where people are meeting you scan the crowd and see that there are no seats open in the back row. You now have two choices: 1. Make the walk of shame – you have to walk past everyone as they watch you. Find a seat right up front as you crawl over people at the end of the isles, and you have to risk someone publically embarrassing you. Or, 2. You just leave. If you were new, which would you choose, and be honest?

I don’t want people to miss out on an opportunity to possibly meet God for the first time because we were sitting in the back to have our own space. That’s not what we as a church are all about. I just want to challenge all of us, myself included, to sit closer to the front and leave the back open. To sit next to someone instead of leaving gaps in the seats. To not just nab the aisle seat because you like the aisle. Let’s consider others even when it comes to where to sit. Let’s counter our American culture.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great insight, Sean. I'll reposition our clan next week.

Of course, I have always preferred the FRONT row.

- Bob Uecker