Interesting factoid, the Depeche Mode song Personal Jesus is about the relationship Priscilla Presley had with Elvis. It is a sad bit of commentary that we look for a person to latch onto to solve our problems. Truth be told, it is truly no better if we do the same with Jesus. If the only intention of your relationship with Jesus is to seek private gain, i.e. salvation, you may be doing it wrong.
On the other hand, if your relationship with Jesus is only with your head or a sort of contact high from being a friend of a friend of Jesus, you likewise may be missing out on the fulness that God has in mind for you.
One of the central themes of the Great Convergence is that the great gathering of the tribes is happening because there is a longing for something missing. One gift that those coming from Evangelical backgrounds offer is the joy of a personal relationship with Jesus. One gift from the mainline tradition is the emphasis on finding Jesus among the least, the last and the lost. One gift of the Great Convergence is the acceptance of both/and over either/or.
If we consider ways of having a relationship with Jesus by two measures, communal vs. individual and thinking vs. feeling then we can imaging a square divided into four parts. On the upper left would be communal/thinking, lower left communal/feeling, upper right individual/thinking, and lower right individual/feeling. While no one ever fits labels 100% (nor should labels be used to box people in) these are handy generalizations to think of various religious traditions. Charismatics and Pentecostals would generally be found on the lower right, with Evangelicals who emphasize theology on the upper right. The left side is home to the mainline folks. Some of them are more at home in intellectualizing the faith and some are looking for belonging in a church family. None of these ways of relating to Jesus is the best, nor should any one way be exclusive.
Now let’s imagine this assortment of folks as a neighborhood with four houses in these four locations, sharing fences that come together in the center. Perhaps the original residents believed the old adage that good fences make good neighbors. But over the years fences fall into disrepair and pets are always interested in the other side even when their humans aren’t. The Great Convergence appears as the next generation of kids get interested in playing with their neighbors beyond the fences.
So live it up friends. Play where you want. In fact, make a point of playing where you haven’t. Play in your head if you usually play in your heart. Play some solitaire if you usually only play with others. In the Great Convergence you will be expected to play…and pray…well with others.
Rev. Ian Lynch is pastor of First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in Brimfield, MA and chaplain for the Brimfield Fire Department. He blogs about the intersection of spirituality and society at CultureDove.blogspot.com and the intersection of spirituality and ornithology at https://birdparables.blogspot.com