Dunker Punks: Walking into the Storm With Jesus

A few weeks ago, I attended a conference about anabaptism and church mission. My favorite speaker was Meghan Good. Meghan is the pastor at Albany Mennonite Church. Meghan’s presentation was so insightful that I’ll probably write a number of posts inspired by quotes from it. Here’s one:

“Salvation doesn’t pull us out of the storm, but into the heart of it.” 

That’s good, right? If I had one takeaway from the conference this is it.

More importantly, if I had to sum up how I want to follow Jesus, I think this would be a big part of the conversation.

Meghan’s statement questions: “Is salvation the ultimate goal of following Jesus?”

Most Christians would probably say yes. And I don’t think that that is selfish. I believe a lot of Christians are genuinely as concerned with the salvation of others as they are with their own salvation. And I think that speaks to a level of human compassion that is admirable and deserves credit.

However, I do think we Christians tend to look at salvation the wrong way. I’m certainly not saying that there is no heaven or anything like that. What I’m saying is that when we become totally preoccupied with what happens after death, we are missing the point of living, we are asking the wrong questions, and this doesn’t allow us to fully follow Jesus.

I think its pretty important that the gospel tells the story of God coming to Earth to live among men, not of men going to heaven to live with God. The bible isn’t about what happens to us when we die. It’s about how we are supposed to live.

Meghan’s presentation started with the story of Peter walking on water. Do you remember it? Its at the end of Matthew 14. Basically, the disciples are on a boat, and that night Jesus walks out onto the water towards the boat, but the disciples are afraid because they think Jesus is a ghost. And Jesus tells them to chill out because it’s just him. Peter says to Jesus, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus does, and Peter steps out of the boat and onto the water.

So often, we think of salvation as the boat, the feeling of safety, the place of refuge. But Peter shows us that salvation isn’t about a place or safety. It’s not about staying dry, but about getting our feet wet.

You may remember that for a moment, Peter loses faith. He begins to sink, and Jesus saves him. Salvation isn’t something that happens when we die. It happened 2000 years ago with Jesus on the cross, and it continues to happen to us constantly. Salvation doesn’t provide us with the comfort of knowing that one day we will be gone from this mess we call the world. It galvanizes us to continue working to clean up this mess we call the world.

Another quote from Meghan: “To Peter, the most defining thing about Jesus is when he says, ‘come do as I do’ and makes that doing possible.” It’s a understanding of Jesus that we should strive for as well. It demonstrates both Jesus’ call for us to follow him by living like him, but also how Jesus equips us so we can have the faith to do that following.

The conversation about Jesus shouldn’t be about meeting him in heaven, but meeting him in the hungry, the thirsty, the strange, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned.

The conversation about his love shouldn’t be about how we have received Jesus’ love, but how we love others like Jesus.

Is salvation the ultimate goal of following Jesus ? I say no. Following Jesus is the ultimate goal of salvation.

Emmett Eldred - Hollidaysburg COB, Middle PA District

Emmett Eldred is a sophomore Creative Writing; Professional Writing; and Ethics, History, and Public Policy Major at Carnegie Mellon University. His passions include reading about, writing about, and snuggling with pugs. Emmett is the founder of DunkerPunks.com, and he wants lots more people to contribute! Fill out a Dunker Punks profile, and join the conversation! Follow Emmett on twitter @emmetteldred and follow Dunker Punks on Twitter @DunkerPunks and on Facebook.

Want to contribute? Fill out a Dunker Punks profile, and/or email Emmett at dunkerpunks2014@gmail.com.

Thoughts on Anabaptists and Dunker Punks

This weekend, I got to attend a conference called “Church and Post-Chrsitian Culture: Christian Witness in the Way of Jesus.” It was a conference hosted by Missio Alliance that focused on the convergence of evangelical and anabaptist thought and how we apply that theology to the concept of mission. That’s a lot of opaque jargon for asking: “How do we follow Jesus?” and “How and why do we encourage others to follow Jesus?”

In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing several blog posts about what I learned and experienced that I found particularly meaningful or thought-provoking, but first, two takeaways for me from the conference as a whole:

1. As anabaptists, we have a beautiful tradition and heritage that we don’t always understand, appreciate, or use.

This is especially true for people like me who grew up anabaptist. Many of the speakers at the conference were actually “outsiders,” people who grew up in a different faith tradition and either came to identify as Anabaptists through prayer and study, or don’t identify as anabaptists but admire and use our theology to inform the way they follow Jesus.

Jarrod McKenna talked about this at NYC. He mentioned that the world is watching us. The world is studying and learning about our tradition, using it to shape their own beliefs and practices. He also mentioned, though, that we have grown up in this thing that the world is just now trying to emulate, and we don’t even understand it ourselves.

That’s why he challenged us to take up this Dunker Punks way of life. As Dunker Punks we must continually strive to learn more about how our faith ancestors followed Jesus. This means praying the Lord’s Prayer as seriously and faithfully as they did, reading the love and teachings of Jesus as deeply and enthusiastically as they did, and living out our faith as radically as they did.

2. Far more importantly, its all about Jesus.

Here’s a tweet that says it better than I can:

This starts with we in the Church of the Brethren admitting that Alexander Mack didn’t found our faith, Jesus did.

And we Dunker Punks must realize that Jarrod McKenna isn’t the impetus of our movement, Jesus is.

Alexander Mack and Jarrod McKenna put these things into words, got them going, got us excited about them. They are amazing, intelligent, thoughtful, and helpful people that can help us understand how to follow Jesus. But we must be careful to never worship our heritage, traditions, or theology. Only Jesus.

It’s ok to be excited, maybe even proud, of our tradition. But our tradition, and this Dunker Punks movement, is only valuable so far as it leads us to more faithfully follow Jesus.

That’s what being a Dunker Punk is all about. It’s to identify with the roots of our tradition, which elevate Jesus, compel us to follow Jesus, and inspire us to view everything the we do — the way we read scripture, the way we interact with others, the way we practice our religion– through the lens of Jesus. It’s about making space in our lives by studying, praying, and gathering together. It’s about making things less about ourselves, and more about Jesus.

It’s starts be realizing that:
reading the bible,
doing justice,
building peace,
living radical, ordinary, peculiar, simple lives…

Are all smaller pieces that fit into the larger context of following Jesus.

One of my favorite descriptions of Jesus comes at the beginning of Hebrews 12. The writer of Hebrews calls Jesus “the author and perfecter of our faith.”

Let Jesus be the author and perfecter of your faith. Not Alexander Mack or Jarrod McKenna. Not your pastor. Not your friends or family. Certainly not me. Of course, use people to enhance and grow in your understanding of how to follow Jesus.

But keep Jesus at the center and permeated through everything that you do.

Emmett Eldred - Hollidaysburg COB, Middle PA District

Emmett Eldred is a sophomore Creative Writing; Professional Writing; and Ethics, History, and Public Policy Major at Carnegie Mellon University. His passions include reading about, writing about, and snuggling with pugs. Emmett is the founder of DunkerPunks.com, and he wants lots more people to contribute! Fill out a Dunker Punks profile, and join the conversation! Follow Emmett on twitter @emmetteldred and follow Dunker Punks on Twitter @DunkerPunks and on Facebook