How to save a life…


One topic in our collective conversation involves wrestling with seeing “all of life as sacred”.

In most evangelical conversations the concept that “all of life is sacred” falls into the dialogue about the sanctity of life – the abortion question… yet the idea originated in orthodox Christianity defining something completely different. The idea that we create false dichotomies related to space and context.

In our conversation the wrestle is about whether there is no spiritual hierarchy between work, play, family, home, church meetings or vacation. The movement towards the integrated life. Where motivation is internal not external, where people are not projects and things are not a means to end. Where business is not just business and church is not just church.

In this paradigm the lines blur in terms of our expectations to see and experience God at work in our lives and through our lives in regards to the holy or sacred space. In this view one space has no more access to spiritual things than another, if we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

One space does not need people of “calling” more than another. Does it?

All spaces need prophets, pastors, teachers, etc. Yet we often live as though certain spaces dominate the landscape of our spiritual hierarchy. Space (work, play, church, family) is important but has its disproportionate importance contributed to our compartmentalized lives?

Is not the kingdom of God the lens we place over understanding church, rather than church is the lens we place on the Kingdom?

Lest we become church–centric rather than life centric in evaluating our spiritual condition or where the work of the spirit is. Part of the journey involves breaking down the sacred/secular false dichotomies in our lives.

If you have ever seen the U2 DVD…”Elevation: Live in Boston” you see tangible moments of the Kingdom of God descending on a completely secular audience in a completely secular environment. Church was happening and they didn’t even know it.  In that moment you experience what ‘all of life” as sacred can be.

Isaac Slade, the lead singer of the Fray, grew up in Denver, Colorado, in a missionary family where he lived for parts of his life in Guatemala. Slade is part of the mile –high vineyard in Denver. Led by my friend Jay Pathak, that community is attempting to break down many false dichotomies regarding spiritual community and life.

The Fray band members’ lives were largely formed in Denver churches where they helped lead worship, and in the Christian school three of them attended. Slade, 30, and guitarist Joe King, 31, were several years ahead of drummer Ben Wysocki, 27, at Faith Christian Academy.

The band avoided Christian record labels, saying God called them to the secular market instead. “I feel he would be disappointed with us if we limited ourselves,” Wysocki says. Slade says he used to “write all Christian lyrics” until he had an epiphany while working a shift at Starbucks:

“None of my friends outside the church understood any of my songs; we had a different set of vocabulary,” he says.

“He adds, “If I handed somebody a double grande mocha latte and told them, ‘Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,’ they might throw it back on me. “If we grow up in the church, it’s easy to think it’s our Christian duty to preach to every single person because God is the most important thing.

“Slade likens his job to any other. “If you’re a painter, paint, but you don’t have to have Jesus in every picture. Paint well, and if you paint well enough, they might ask you why you do that.”

Relating to people’s lives Slade points out that Jesus used stories that contained much earthly imagery. “The Pharisees just quoted Bible verses,” Slade says. “Jesus related the parables to people’s lives. The people were drawn in by the plot development, character and conflict.

“After tossing his Christian songs, Slade wrote about the breakup with his first girlfriend. “It was a lot more honest than I had ever been,” Slade says. “It was scary being that honest and open. “Slade pushes through the fear with song after song that are every bit as candid.

The title track to How to Save a Life recounts Slade’s mentoring relationship with a teenager at a Christian halfway house who seemed hell-bent on destroying himself but, fortunately, did not. With the power of a biblical lament, Slade mourns and cries in anger at the same time:

Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

The band “The fray” is on a journey to see their spirituality in the context that “all of life is sacred.” They are wrestling with this paradigm in their work as musicians on a large stage. Part of their journey involves holding each other accountable to the integrated, spiritual life they have walked out together. They are one fluorescent example of this wrestle on the landscape today.

Let it be
Todd Rutkowski

~ by blueporch on June 4, 2011.

One Response to “How to save a life…”

  1. I just want to say that the comment about the painter is so true because we are told to do everything as unto the Lord and that would be the best reason for someone to want to be a part of your life. As we achieve excellence it shows those around us that as Christians we have something to offer.

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