Alright, ladies, here we go with this week’s “Campfire Conversations”.
Up to this point, I’ve been calling them, “Campfire Calls” but today, as I was praying about these posts on this tribe’s core theological distinctions and convictions this dazzling picture of community kept coming to me. I love the picture of women surrounding a crackling fire, knee to knee, laughing and talking about Jesus. I love the ease of the word, “conversation” over “debate” It’s inline with the culture of this tribe: peacemakers, women who love, humility embrace-ers.
So now that we’ve defined our culture as a peacemaking Jesus-following community, I’m excited to unpack with you a beautiful vision of the Christian faith—the ReKnew Manifesto —which is the bases of these Campfire Conversations.
Today’s Campfire Conversation will help us examine our identity, worth, and significance so that we can reject the idols that prevent us from living the free, abundant life that Jesus describes in John 10.
Before we jump into the conversation, I have to make a confession because you know…we’re building community here and one of best ways to solidify sisterhood is to share our deepest, darkest, “dear diary”-est, secrets, right?
Ok..here we go…
I love vampires.
Not the creepy, alabaster, pointy-tooth, in need of a manicure vampires like Nosferatu:
I love the Edward Cullens, the Salvatore Brothers, or the Matthew Clairemonts of the vampire world. When my husband teases me for this, he likes to call them my, “pretty little vampires”. You know the type, they’re overly protective, too attractive for their centuries of existence, and brooding (always brooding):
By the way, if you don’t know who any of those guys are—good on you, girl.
I wish I didn’t have this odd fascination with handsome creatures of the night, but from the moment I turned on the first “Twilight” novel on audiobook—I was hooked.
Now this may not be a surprise to some of you, I’ve written here before about how I blame Kristen Stewart for ruining Twilight for me. In fact, I wrote that post for my Lenten series, “40 Days of Peace”, in which God helped me forgive Kristen Stewart as an exercise of grace towards those who let me down. Yes, y’all. It’s that serious.
I love vampires
“Why do you watch this non-sense?” my husband asks whenever I rush to the TV to watch “Vampire Diaries” or rent a Twilight flick from Redbox, to which I shrug and say, “they’re fun to look at and the storyline is SO good”. But really, how many times can we negotiate the girl meets boy, girl is mysteriously drawn to boy, boy rejects girl even though you can tell he’s into her, boy saves girl, girl find out boy’s strength, intellect, moodiness, and overall allure is because he’s a vampire. Then they run into the night, swearing to love each other forever and to only eat poor, unsuspecting deer.
Regardless of how pedantic the story-lines and in spite of their creepy stalker tendencies, I just still love vampires.
This confession— although deeply embarrassing for me—actually sets up today’s conversation because I do have a better answer for my husband when he asks why I’m interested in vampires and it has nothing to do with story-lines or pretty actors. Vampires intrigue me because I can sympathize with them. Vampires are constantly navigating an unquenchable thirst for life. Without the essence of another, in their case, blood—they will cease to exist, so they prowl looking for life-source after life-source night after night, year after year.
I tend to forget this draw back to immortality, probably because I hate that at times, I can be like a vampire, too.
If I’m not careful, I can get my sense of worth, life, identity, and purpose from temporal things.
I’ve always been a vampire, I think
It started when was a young girl and realized I was conceived from an affair. I would go to church and hear things like “adultery”, “sexual immorality”, and “sanctity of marriage” and quickly surmised that I was a mistake. At the same time though, I was singing, “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and when we got to “red and yellow, brown and white they are precious in his sight” I hoped that somehow Jesus’ divine love can overlook my parent’s human mistake, so I gave my life to him in a little Sunday School room that smelled of Elmer’s glue and donuts.
For a few years I basked in the “Jesus, loves me this I know” glow until around twelve when conflict in my home between my mom and my father’s wife escalated to monthly, sometimes, weekly catfights and I wondered:
‘Would these two be fighting like this, if my mom didn’t get pregnant with me? If I hadn’t been born would my dad and his wife still be happily married? Would his wife have a daughter, a right-fully born daughter, of her own? If God is as big and sovereign as he says he is, then he must have let me, a mistake by all accounts, be born for a reason.’
And from that train of thought, I concluded that God saved me from my sins and let me live to prove a point. Like Hosea, the prophet and Gomer, the prostitute, I figured God was going to use me like Hosea and Gomer. God asked Hosea to unconditionally love with his trampy wife Gomer as a living illustration of his desire to woo back Israel. I wanted to be a better, more willing participant in God’s great plan to prove his goodness than Gomer. I was going to make sure God didn’t regret letting me be born and I was going to do great, big, immortal things for Jesus— I was going to be BEST CHRISTIAN EVER!!!!
And so I threw myself into all the “shoulds” of Christian living. I did my devos twice a day for good measure. I resided in my prayer closest. I carried my Bible to school in my backpack. At fourteen, I was outspoken about true love waiting and doing what Jesus would do. I rallied for “See you at the Pole” and chased down the Christian teachers to get them to sponsor our school’s Christian club. I often received the highest compliment any young believer could ever receive; “You are on fire for God!” My identity as the Christian girl became my life in high school.
And with every accomplishment, every “soul won for the Lord”, every ridicule for being a “Jesus-girl”, every sanctimonious rant to other Christians that world is going to hell in a hand basket, I sucked in life, worth, and purpose.
It felt good. And I wanted more.
But as you’ll learn throughout the week, that type of thinking took me down a heartbreaking path that eventually lead me calling up my pastor’s wife to tell her, “I’m not even sure I believe in God, so maybe I shouldn’t be the accountability leader for the group any longer”. Then when that source of life went away, I dove into a spectacular season of promiscuity.
When I made that phone call, I was dry, desiccated, and thirsty even though I was and had been a Christian leader for over ten years by that point.
Ironic, no? I lived for Jesus, but didn’t live in Jesus.
This is the problem with attempting to drain created things of their essence instead of drawing life from the Creator, it will always, always, always leave us thirsty.
Jesus knows this too! He knows we’re pretty little vampires that needs life, which is why he tells us to draw life from him:
“Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” John 6:53-58.
This is why the Eucharist is so precious to me. When I take the wine and break the bread I’m reminding myself, “Osheta, this is life to you. Jesus’ love shown on Calvary defines your worth. This body was broken for you, this blood was shed for you…not your works, not your beliefs, not your possessions, and not your relationships…for you. Just the way you are and even as you were being knitted in the womb of your unwed, “other woman” mother.”
This tribe’s first and foremost conviction is that we get our life for Jesus and Jesus alone. Not the rightness of our theology, but Jesus. If Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and The Life, then it is nothing short of idolatry when we turn to other things—maybe even good things—for our salvation or sense of worth.
So, Sister…where do you get our life?
Do you get it in the veracity of your beliefs? What about being a “biblical woman”? The overall GAP cuteness of your kids? What about your body? Do you feel particularly powerful and capable when your scale registers that “perfect” number? Do you rely on your wit, intelligence, or accomplishments to feed your thirsty soul?
If so, then you my dear are a pretty little vampire like me, but all is not lost. There is a cure for it. And unlike “the cure” in Vampire Diaries that is only enough to make one person aware of their vulnerabilities, we all have access to The Cure.
Our Cure is our found with our Good Shepherd Jesus, who calls for the thirsty to come and drink and never thirst again.
I’ll leave with a song to meditate on your thirst and give it over to Jesus. Find your life in Him and him alone.
For more teachings on being a pretty little vampire, I encourage you to check out this sermon, “My Life As a Vampire” by Greg Boyd. He has some great stuff on getting our life from Jesus, but this is my favorite—for obvious reasons.
Tomorrow, I’ll share with you how getting my life from the rightness of my beliefs and being “the on fire”, left me giving Gomer, the prostitute a run for her money.
In the Light and drawing Life,