Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Loving to Agitate

Peace and blessings,

Now i'm not really an insect person, but the Gadfly is a particularly interesting insect, given 1) its characteristic behavior and 2) who this behavior affects. A Gadfly is a type of fly that annoys livestock. Yeah that's right, all they do is basically agitate livestock. Even more interesting, however, is
  • the social implication of this concept of a Gadfly.
  • In a nutshell, the term "Gadfly" has been used thoughout history and in contemprary society to describe someone or something that agitates in the name of "waking people up" in a sense.

    While at a Christian leadership conference last November, one of the speakers said something that resonated deeply with me. He said that as Christians, EVERY (social) situation that we find ourselves in (e.g. a meeting, an event, a discussion, an organization, etc...) should be different (changed) simply because we are in it. This is not to say that it is something about us that people should pay attention to, because first and foremost it is not us but God through us, and we are called to be humble. What it is saying is that when people see and interact with us, they should see that God lives in and works through us. This idea of the Gadlfy was also expressed by
  • LPG, a southern California Christian hip-hop group.
  • Regarding this matter, Jesus proclaimed that

    "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house." (Matthew 5:13-15)

    The conference speaker's statement, and its scriptural justification, deeply resonated with me on two levels. For one, the statement resonated with me because pragmatically, it makes sense. Since we have been saved by, and thus called to represent JC, then this representation should be evident through our daily actions. Again, this is not to say that we intentionally draw attention to ourselves as if we're saying "look at me, the super holier-than-thou Christian." This should never be our motivation for doing anything. On another level, the statement resonated with me because it causes me to constantly evaluate my life and ask the following questions: Am I letting my light shine in every situation that I find myself in? Am I decreasing so that God can increase and get the glory?

    No what's the connection between what I've just mentioned and the ugly insect at the beginning of the post? The connection, at least in my opinion, will easily be seen once the Gadfly's actions are explained in further detail. As mentioned earlier, the Gadlfy is known for annoying livestock. Although the term "annoying" tends to have a negative connotation, there are times when being annoying can be a positive and loving thing. If the purspose of annoying someone or something is to preserve their life (e.g. it could very well be the case that if not agitated by the Gadfly, some livestock would die in their sleep through choking or through some other means), then such agitation is warranted. Similarly, I think that we as Christians have a similar calling, to agitate those persons, structures, and ideologies that seek oppress and destroy. Through LOVE, we should constantly be letting our light shine in a way that represents JC in a world that often tries to suppress Him. In terms of being a loving agitator, JC was the best to do it. During his ministry, he showed unconditional love for prostitutes, criminals, and sinners, while at the same time changing (spiritually, mentally, socially, and in some cases physically) every situation He was apart of. In Matthew 10:34-35 he says

    "Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to part asunder a man from his father, and a daughter from her mother, and a newly married wife from her mother-in-law--"

    What I take from this is that although JC loved us so much as to die for us and incur the burden for our sins, he also came to "shake things up" so that people can follow Him. Given that Jesus was a revolutionary (e.g. he challenged the oppressive structures and advocated for the marginalized) in addition to being our Savior and Redeemer, we are called to "shake things up" in our groups, organizations, communities, and sometimes even our families, so that God's light can be seen through us.

    What do you think? What do you think it means to be a Gadfly? To let your light shine in all situations? Weigh in and speekonit...


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    Anonymous said...

    Hey Justin,
    Was the conference last November the BCM conference @ Harvard? Nevertheless, I like this blog a lot. It really ministered to me. I think that another way in which Jesus Christ was an agitator or to the people that he was an agitator towards were the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They were self righteous and doing things that weren't pleasing in the eyes of God. And Jesus Christ agitated their beliefs ; but like you said, he did it out of love for the people including the Pharisees and the Sadducees. And also, I think you're right when you say that God might call us to be agitators in our callings and to agitate out of love. However, I also think that God calls us to be agitators against the kingdom of hell, the spirit of wickedness, etc. I like this a lot, big bro!!!.


    Unknown said...

    Yeah sis, it was that conference. and in terms of being agitators against the kingdom of hell and wickedness, I believe that wickedness and sin is the root of oppressive structures and practices. Therefore, to agitate one arena is to inevitably agitate the other. Thanks for hitting up the site and continue to spread the word!

    Anonymous said...

    Thanks for droppin' those uplifting thoughts once again! I love reading your blog. :)