Blue Collar Jesus

My favorite coach, Tom Izzo, likes to brag that his teams are blue collar teams. They don’t always have the blue chip player, but they have guys that work hard and dive to the hard floor for a loose ball. They put their head down and do work, day in and day out.  Of course, Izzo isn’t the only one who prizes these sort of players and teams. The recent NCAA champion Baylor likes blue collar players as well.

The Church could learn something from these coaches. So often, especially as some are freaking out about membership decline, Christian leaders propose dynamite solutions to solve your church attendance woes. Or if they could just get this great speaker or put on just the right worship service (contemporary or high church – both aesthetic appeals). One of the many great blessings of Covid has been the shut down of conferences. Good Lord, how many conferences offer that spiritual recharge, yet only turns out to be a shot in the arm that quickly fades away, leaving the user like a meth addict, helpless as he comes down from the high and bored with the ordinary Christian life.

There are books upon books written to the point of absurdity. Nothing new or interesting has probably been said in years really. Everyone is trying to be the next C.S. Lewis. But for the most part, they read like sophomore essay contests. I have a theory that between conferences and books, the audience remains the same. Like deadheads, there is no new conversion. Just conference and book addicts.  

The real and substantial work of God happens in the repeated and regular events of the ordinary Christian Church. A not so brilliant pastor preaching barbaric yet true sermons, a hospital visit or late night call, a sinner pestering her neighbor to come to Saturday morning Bible study. It isn’t one extraordinary gotcha sermon or perfect turn of phrase that moves a sheep into the barn. In fact, watch out for sermons that sound like the preacher spent weeks perfectly preparing every word. First of all, if it sounds like that then by definition it isn’t well crafted. Second, the pastor shouldn’t be spending weeks creating a sermon that you hear once and then it’s gone. Instead that pastor should be praying with you, saying the same old Gospel to you in every day words, over and over again. Like growing a garden, it takes repeated action and patience. A lot of boring work. But that’s blue collar Jesus and blue collar Christianity. How it’s meant to be.

Rubber hits the road. Loving people not just with words but with actions. Preaching not just from the pulpit but at the hospital bed, the football field, the cocktail party, and with the couple outside the courthouse. Day in, day out.

Jesus was a carpenter’s son, not some fancy software king. He knew hard work and labor. He did it on the cross and killed the grave. You don’t have to do that. He sends His church out to make disciples by “yawn” pouring water on people and teaching them. One on one. Diving for loose balls. Crashing the boards. Checking your man. Running the floor. Over and over. Work. 

That ordinary every day work is absolutely the only way God has miraculously grown His church and sustained it. It still works today.