I think we can all agree that there is not a more popular writer on Christ Hold Fast than Chad Bird. Let’s face it, He paints pictures with his words that some of us on here can only dream of doing, and he’s got the credentials to back those pictures up. To be sure, he’s probably one of the most learned writers here, being a former professor and pastor. He certainly has the chops to dissect scripture in a proper exegetical fashion, but when I talk of credentials, I’m not referring to his great theological knowledge. No, that’s not the credentials I’m talking about.
I’m talking about his brokenness. I’m talking about his heartache and pain. It doesn’t matter where it came from, but if you ask Chad, he’d probably say much of it was self-inflicted. In one of his books, Night Driving, he’s brutally honest about much of it. I’m not going to quote anything from his book, you’ll have to read it for yourself. I think I’ve given him enough of a plug with the title of this article alone. To be honest, I’m just trying to get more than 30 people to read this. I could have title this, “I’m not Erick Sorensen” or “I’m not Dan Price”, but let’s face it, when we see Chad’s name, we’re like Pavlov’s dog hearing the bell, we just have to click through and read what he wrote.
That’s because we connect with his writing. The stories may be different, but there’s something familiar in them. A feeling of shared brokenness, of momentary despairs. Something that says, “me too.” I’m not sure about some of my other fellow contributors, but I know I wish I could connect like that with the readers. Am I a little jealous? Definitely. But I’m glad he’s here, and I am a thankful for him and what he says that I can so often relate too.
I’m not Chad Bird. None of us are. But like him, we’ve been broken. We’ve dealt with our share of suffering. We’ve all got a story to tell about it. Some of us don’t do it on paper. Some of us do in conversations over coffee, looking across the table at someone with the raw expression of honesty written on our faces. Some of us do it in small groups, urging people with our stories to see what grace and mercy really looks like, so they might find the courage to follow suit. Some of us, I pray, do it alone in a room with our Pastor so we might hear those wonderful words of absolution at the end of a tortured confession, “you are forgiven.”
None of us are Chad Bird, but we all have the opportunity to do what he, Erick Sorensen, Dan Price and others do here, and that’s share your brokenness with others, even if it’s just one person at a time. We have opportunities to paint vivid pictures of brokenness and heartache, and we have an even greater opportunity to frame that picture with mercy, grace, forgiveness and love. We can do that one at a time. I’m thankful for the big splashes that we get of that from guys like Chad Bird, but even a small ripple from a tiny pebble can have a huge consequence in person’s life.
To paint this picture, to frame it, and hang it across your body for someone to see, is to share the Gospel. This is not about trying to be relevant for relevance sake. We should go to Scripture all day, every day, but in our immediate conversations, full of ever-shrinking attention spans, if we want people to know Christ, to know grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, the picture we need to show them, needs to be a lot closer than the pages of Scripture, and it needs to be a lot sooner than 2000 years ago. They have to see and hear us.
I’m not saying that, “We may be the only Jesus anyone will ever see.” I wouldn’t give much hope for a “conversion” from that meeting. I’m also not saying that “We may be the only Bible anyone reads.” Considering most people’s casual association with Scripture being “a rule book for living”, they’d more than likely find someone who often breaks the rules.
What I am saying, is that the only Gospel they may ever hear, may be from us. We want that Gospel personal and relatable. It doesn’t get more personal and relatable than when we go from, “Jesus forgave” to “Jesus forgave ME!” When people can ask, “You mean, I can come just like this?” Their ears are beginning to open. This is always what the Gospel does, even if we use the DEV (Dominick’s English Version)
This is what Chad Bird does. This is what Dan Price does. This is what Erick Sorensen, Kathy Strauch, Bonnie Petroschuk, Brandon Hanson, and so many others do regularly here at Christ Hold Fast, Pastor or not, formal seminary training or not. We convey brokenness, and pain. We convey grace, and mercy. We convey the Gospel.
Every time you share your story of brokenness and grace, you share the Gospel too.
And he said to them, Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. -Mark 16:15
A theological misfit landing in the area of Lutheranism, Dominick has come to deeply appreciate the truth of scripture as defined by the distinction between Law and Gospel. He has found freedom in knowing that Christ is his substitute on even his worst days. He has been for the course of his church life everything from chair-stacker to men's ministry leader. He is blessed with a wonderful wife and two great young men, which he can say without a doubt, he doesn't deserve. He counts among his favorite things: Star Trek, classic superhero comics, movies, Yankees and yes, he admits to it, the Knicks. He enjoys a good conversation and good food. Finally, he is grateful for the opportunity to share the message of God's Grace among all these great teachers, pastors and theologians and hopes he doesn't mess up big time. But then again, that's what grace is for, right?