stealth ninja or village idiot

26 11 2014

Stealth ninja or village idiot. They often seem like the only options. When you find yourself as the only Christian this side of the horizon or office wall, you’re either an undercover spy secreting prayer bombs and occasionally bravely speaking in code to persuadable colleagues, or you’re the religious nutcase people look at sympathetically and avoid talking to especially when you’ve got you’re Bible out on the desk.

I know the feeling. People often think vicars live in holy bubbles (it’s actually called a vicarage) and only talk to Christians all day so have no idea about the ‘real world’, which is situated the other side of the church doors and the reason why it’s cold out there. For me at least it’s not true. The vast amount of time I spend with other people is spent with non-Christians. In schools (I’ve been in 6 recently, am regularly in 3), taking funerals or baptisms, at Local Committees, all these places I am the stealth ninja, or the village idiot. 

Maybe you work in a warehouse or office every day with the same people, or go to playgroups with other mums; maybe nobody knows you are a believer, and it’s been so long and you still haven’t told them it’s become an embarrassing secret. I am the same when I am not ‘in role’. I’m a terrible evangelist, carrying the same guilt many Christians do for being basically ordinary and indistinguishable from everyone else.  

What to do about it? I think it comes down to confidence and kindness. Confidence in our faith, and kindness to those who a) don’t share it, b) question it, c) wreck it for us by being the village idiot. If our faith defines us, defines the way we are and think and do, it can’t be a secret; yet it doesn’t need to be peppered throughout our conversation as if nothing is true or right unless it’s been crow-barred into a dubious bible verse.

I am who I am because of who God is.

At times that means we will be a undercover stealth ninjas, bringing truth and justice and sometimes just a whispered prayer into a difficult situation. At other times we will be the village idiots, poked and prodded like a dissection specimen for holding strange views like loving your neighbour or that Jesus married Mary Magdelene and had twins.

Sometimes simply our presence is enough though. So be confident in your work and at your work, not just in your place on the music group rota or whatever you do there. We can do without music groups at church if we need to (gasp), but not without you being salt and light every day. Tell us how we can resource you better.

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One response

27 11 2014
Hope

stunningly relevant…
teaching music in a non-faith state school, I feel so often like a 5th-columnist for the kingdom.
quote from a bright yr 6 (re RE lessons) “of course no-one believes all that stuff today, do they, Mrs D…” my response? friendly grin, and “well actually, M, they do… quite a lot of people do…” and then move on. Sowing seeds…
It’s tough – and also an immense privilege.
the hardest bit is forgiving myself for all the times my life falls short, all the times I marr God’s image in me – and having to remember and trust that God can take and bless even my failures and brokenness…
How can church professionals support us? pray, pray, and then pray some more. And listen when we need to off-load. And rejoice with us for all the moments of grace we experience in the front line. And be patient with our forays into doubt and fear.

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