Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in your beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken.
Those words are from the mind of Rich Mullins. He was one of my early musical inspirations. He was my first lyric hero. I had a chance to run a song past him once, when I was an insecure college student who had just started writing music, and he was gracious and encouraging. And his every song, and every interview I ever heard or read showed him speaking truth in ways I had heard rarely elsewhere. Rich got the Gospel, and wasn’t afraid to follow it for real.
I learned from Rich what it means to be hopeful and honest at the same time about pain. This is something that is still a major thread in my own speaking as a pastor, and I think, part of why people respond so positively. He had a clear vision of both halves – the darkness of the human heart, and the tragic failings of the church to live out the Gospel, as well as the the lightness of hope and what happens when people really choose to follow Jesus. Hopeful cynic. Loving critic. Gentle prophet.
I still have pain that he died. What a loss.
If you haven’t ever listened to Rich Mullins, I wish you would. ”If I Stand” can still make me cry and inspire hope. ”Creed” centers me. ”Boy Like Me/Man Like You,” gentles my perfectionist spirit. ”Let Mercy Lead” is a wonderful vision for life. If you don’t know where to start, and want to try some of Rich out, I think his album “A Liturgy, a Legacy, & a Ragamuffin Band” is a great place to start.