Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lin-sanity, Predictability, and Discipleship

Scripture: Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23
First there was Tebow and now there is Linsanity. Have you heard of Jeremy Lin and how he is taking the NBA by storm? The NBA's first Taiwan-American was the Player of the Week last week. This is after being cut by two teams and going virtual unnoticed by NBA scouts playing his college basketball at Harvard. Due to a ration of injures for the New York Knicks, Lin got his shot and he has taken advantage of it. Lin's latest dramatics is that he hit the last second three-point game winning shot last night. The reason for Jeremy Lin's comparisons to Tebow is that both are evangelical Christians. Both have also had to overcome skeptics and doubters. What caught my attention this morning was the quote of NBA Commissioner David Stern about Lin. With all this rise in notoriety Stern is obviously happy. Though I couldn't find the actual quote it went something to the effect, "In an age where scouts pigeon-hole NBA ready guys at the McDonalds All American Game (for graduating High School players) it is nice to see someone like Lin who has brought some unpredictability to the game."
This made me immediately remember George Ritzer's book The McDonaldization of Society. (What, you didn't go there?) Sociologist George Ritzer points out systems in our culture designed to ensure rationality. He presents four dimensions: efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control. You can go to a McDonalds in the state of Washing and in Florida and know that when you order a Big Mac it will be same in both places. That is by design both in terms of ingredients but also in terms of the systems that control the employees and the methods they use. This ensures the ingredients and taste of the Big Mac are predictable.
None of these dimensions are completely bad. Having predictability in life is necessary for a sense of order and stability. We can predict when the sun will rise and set. We can predict that mail will come each day. We can predict what our orange juice, coffee, etc. will taste like when we purchase our favorite brand. But too much of anything is a bad thing. As much as we  psychologically need predictability we also crave unpredictability. We desire some drama, we desire adventure. There's a reason action adventure movies are so popular. As is the reason the media hypes stories like Jeremy Lin. He comes from out of no where. No one predicted it. Will the story and fascination continue? For how long? How will it end?
In our "McDonaldized" age, we look for unpredictability often through harmful means: drugs, alcohol, dangerous adventure seeking, pornography, etc. Yet when Jesus declared that the Kingdom of God had come near, I believe He was giving us an opportunity to live the adventurous life we truly crave in following Him. When Jesus declares "Take up your cross and follow me" He is calling us to the ultimate life of unpredictability. Just go ask Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, David, Jeremiah, James, John, Peter, or Paul.
How does viewing discipleship through the lens of adventure and not a preprogramed set of rules help or change things for you?
Where is God calling you? Another way to look at this question might be: where does my God given passions line up with a need in the world that I feel called to? How would this be a good adventure adding some unpredictability to your life?

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