Monday, November 7, 2011

Polarizing Pastor

“I don’t really care what others think about me. What are you going to do with me? What do I mean to you? Who am I, really?” (Mark 8:29 RSV)

I happen to really like Halloween. Now, before all of you conservative parents out their block this blog with other sites, hear me out. It’s not the gory, gruesome, satanic aspect of the day that excites me. It’s not even the candy; though I would have said otherwise as a slightly larger than normal youth. What I love about Halloween is the chance to get in costume. Too often I find myself daydreaming – wondering what it would be like to be someone else. And for the night, not only am I granted this reality, it is encouraged!

As such, even as an ‘adult’, I have put a fair amount of time into my costume over the last several years. This is a great idea in theory, until the following year when you pressure yourself to come up with something even better, even more creative.

Over the past several years, I think I have done a pretty good job. Halloween 2009 found me as a Heath Ledger Joker. The makeup job was fantastic, and my hair was just long enough to pull it off.

Last year, I went as the most interesting man in the world from the infamous Dos Equis commercials. The costume was a hit, as even some people from my own group didn’t recognize me.

This year however I was afforded the luxury of a theme. My particular group of friends here in Charlotte decided that we would go to the same place we did the year before. This time there would be a group theme of Super Hero.

I thought hard about what would be good. Initially I just figured going as myself would work. (C’mon, that was kinda funny…) Then some of the classics came in to my mind: Batman, Superman, Spiderman. And still some more rare and yet oft duplicated Quailman, Captain Planet, and some others.

I wanted my costume to stand out.

Then, brilliance.

In a bit of jest, I decided I was going to dress up as a pastor. Now, I know what you’re thinking. A pastor. One, that’s stupid. And two, what’s so super about a pastor?

I wasn’t just any pastor however. I dressed up as Steven Furtick, Senior Pastor at Elevation Church in Charlotte.

To provide a bit of context, Elevation Church sees somewhere around 9,000 attendees each weekend at 6 campuses. Pastor Furtick is a young, hip(ster?) pastor who dresses well and was the original founder in 2006.

What’s interesting is that between the size and enormity of the ‘Elevation Experience” as well as social media outlets, Elevation members talk about Pastor Furtick as though he is literally a Super Hero.

Those could serve as their own issues – none of which are why I am writing this.

What was amazing to me was the response I received at a local bar. What was originally intended to get some laughs from a group of friends turned into quite an event.

I had people come up to me and say,

“Aw man! That is awesome! I love Elevation! That is such a great costume!”

Others declared,

“Hey Man! F Elevation! That place sucks!”

There wasn’t a whole lot of in between.

As I have been able to think a little past the actual event I have come to realize that Steven Furtick is quite a polarizing figure. I cannot say I know the man. I’ve never even met him. The church seems to have solid theology and men I respect in the faith back him up. Again, these are not the issues at hand.

The reality is, as polarizing as Steven Furtick is, it pales in comparison to Jesus Christ himself. C.S. Lewis once noted that either this man was a madman, something worse, or in fact the Son of God.

In today’s world Christ is oftentimes not much more than a name used in frustration. Sometimes we pray in his name because someone is sick, or we need to pass a test, or we really want that new fill in the blank.

Sometimes he is Messiah.

Sometimes he is Friend.

Sometimes he is cosmic Genie.

Christ himself poses the question to his closest followers and begs the question of us today:

“Who do you say I am?”

He doesn’t leave a lot of room to put him on the shelf. The person of Christ must be wrestled with, and come to conclusion.

Because until we are able to answer that, we are just walking through this life as if we were someone else.

A concept just great for one night, but not recommended for a lifetime.

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