It’s been a little over a year since I first read The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus, lead pastor of Mosaic. Erwin is one of my favorite writers and Christ-following leaders; I consider all of his stuff must reading (especially for leaders).
Every Christ-follower who wants to live whole-heartedly and unabashedly for God should read, internalize, and live out this book! I’m still somewhere around stage two of this process.
In the book, Erwin laments the fact that “Christianity over the past two thousand years has moved from a tribe of renegades to a religion of conformists” (5). Erwin argues that “Christianity has become docile, domesticated, civilized” (17). The book is an effort for Christ-followers “to hear the barbarian call, to form a barbarian tribe, and to unleash the barbarian revolt” (17).
The Church has an identity problem. We don’t know who we are. We don’t fully understand why we’re here. Erwin writes …
God’s will for us is less about our comfort than it is about our contribution. God would never choose for us safety at the cost of significance. (45).
Part of the identity problem, Erwin argues, is that, “When we are born again, we are dropped not into a maternity ward, but into a war zone” (126). Because of that, Erwin adds, “Maybe the first word we hear should not be ‘welcome,’ but ‘jump'” (126).
Unleash the untamed faith within!
I find myself agreeing with Erwin when he highlights the difference between the way things are and the way things could and should be …
Somehow Christianity has become a nonmystical religion. It’s about a reasonable faith. If we believe the right things, then we are orthodox. Frankly whether we actually connect to God or experience his undeniable presence has become incidental, if not irrelevant. We have become believers rather than experiencers. To know God in the Scriptures always went beyond information to intimacy. We may find ourselves uncomfortable with this reality, but the faith of the Scriptures is a mystical faith (61).
Finally, one thing is clear from the book. Living the life of a barbarian, a Christ-follower with an untamed faith, is certainly not the safe route. Erwin writes …
The civilized build shelters and invite God to stay with them; barbarians move with God wherever he chooses to go. The civilized Christian has a routine; the barbarian disciple has a mission. The civilized believer knows the letter of the law; the barbarian disciple lives the spirit of the law. The religiously civilized love tradition; the barbarian spirit loves challenges. The civilized are satisfied with ritual; barbarians live and thrive in the mystical. For a civilized disciple, religion provides stability and certainty; for the barbarian, a life in God is one of risk and mystery (79).
Sign me up. I want to be a barbarian for God, a Christ-follower with an untamed faith!