i have to confess to something that is really pathetic. i’m calling it freenobling. here’s how it works: you go to barnes and noble, find a comfortable chair and begin reading a book. repeat as needed to finish said book. yes, indeed. freeloading at its best. so, i’m currently anticipating trip #4 in which i will continue to read shane claiborne’s new book jesus for president. in just under a hundred pages down or so, it didn’t take very long to glean some really intriguing and challenging insights.
one of the most profound insights that claiborne discusses is the idea that we often think that humans are seduced by things that are anti-god. in fact, though, humans, throughout history, have been most seduced by almost-god. it isn’t the things that are opposite of god that draw us to going against god, but rather, it’s the things that that are almost god—the things that allow us to achieve our own self-reallized spot next to god.
in the garden of eden, it wasn’t the idea that the man and woman could become something that was so different than god. the promise of the tempter was that they would become like god. throughout the record of scripture, we find many other examples. people built a tower that reached toward heaven to physically represent their ascension toward god. pharaohs seized power, claiming they were divine. people crafted golden idols to be able to physically approach and manipulate and touch the thing they worshipped. people are drawn not primarily to anti-god, but most often, almost-god.
for me, these insights are particularly salient as someone who is engaged in pastoral leadership. the seduction of the almost-god is powerful and is an epidemic among church leaders. the draw to power and greed and self-reliance and arrogance and theological superiority are all very powerful and tries to convince leaders that they are almost-god. my goal and what i consider my calling is to avoid this seduction by leading in such a way that values humility and sojourning alongside the people in my church rather than standing above and engaging in conversation with an attitude of teachability and staying accountable with others about my personal life and my pastoral decisions.
shane claiborne has really crafted a powerful story that is worth engaging. so, go pick it up…or, at bare minimum, go do a little freenobling.