The church needs heretics!

Our society needs heretics. Even more so, the church needs heretics.

That might sound blasphemous, but let me explain. I'm not talking about theological heretics -- people who hold to teachings about God that fall outside of accepted orthodoxy. (One could argue that the church has benefited from theological heretics, but that is another discussion.)

I'm talking about 'heretic' as author Seth Godin uses the term in his leadership book, Tribes. According to Godin, heretics are people who challenge the status quo. They live out of an inner passion that makes mediocrity unacceptable.

Jesus was a heretic in Godin's sense. He challenged the status quo and lived out of an inner passion. The ultimate gesture was when he chased the merchants out of the temple. Every time he overturned a table, he was overturning the status quo. And his disciples connected his actions with a verse from the Psalms that expresses deep passion: "Zeal for your house will consume me" (John 2:17; Psalm 69:9).

Jesus set up a way of living that challenges the status quo of our society. Ultimately Jesus and the American Dream don't mix. Jesus also challenges much of what we accept as normal in the church -- half-hearted devotion to God and limited love for people. The church needs Jesus-followers who will upset the natural tendency to drift into norms like these.

When Godin uses the word 'heretic,' it is a call to courageous living. It takes a lot of courage to really follow Jesus, but such people are in great need, both in society and the church.

What would happen if this Lenten season, you committed to becoming a heretic in this way? Where might you be called to challenge the status quo in your home, school, workplace, or church?


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