Monday, January 03, 2005

3 January 2004: Mullins

Goodness me, seems a long time since I wrote anything on here. That's Christmas vacations for you.

And what to write about? The fact that it's been the coldest winter here in Texas for eighty-seven years? (Which isn't saying much: there was snow, but I've been wearing shorts most of the time.) The tales of travelling to meet Gloria's family and friends? The introduction of Christmas crackers to rural Texas towns? Actually, all of those would be good topics, but last night we watched a video about the life of Rich Mullins, and that gave me much more to think about.

For those who don't know, Rich Mullins was a distinctly unconventional Christian musician. He read the Bible for himself, he didn't take denominational instructions from anyone, he led a ragamuffin life where he gave away the vast majority of his income: he himself lived in a trailer in New Mexico, where he wrote his songs and taught the local native American kids about the Bible in his own unique way. He rattled the cages of the mainstream religious movements, but the people loved him. He did what he was gifted to do, he loved people with a genuine love and he said what he thought, and didn't care what others said about him. When he died in a car accident in 1997 it was a sad loss to the world (not just to the Christian cliques of America), but somehow it was fulfillment rather than loss for Mullins himself. Heaven was something he'd been running toward all his life.

He was cynical about government - he didn't believe any government would ever have the answers to the problems of the world - and he championed the unprivileged, the oppressed, the minority. He personally brought the good news to the poor in his native land and around the world. Watching the video last night brought home to me the stuff Jesus talked about, stuff like being the light of the world, and how the church has twisted it almost out of all recognition. It's about love, having time for people, meeting needs, showing grace, allowing God to work through us. Mullins was far from perfect - but he was so unconventional it was often hard to tell what was wrong and what was just prejudice on the part of those judging him.

I wish I'd known more about him while he was alive - I only knew the song 'Our God is an Awesome God' prior to his death - but I'm pleased he did what he did, and I'm pleased that people haven't forgotten. Christianity over here in America is often so middle-class, so morality-preaching, that it's forgotten what the word 'grace' means. But even in these days of bad news, where the death toll from the tsunami continues to increase daily and we continue to ask how there can be a God when such suffering takes place, it's helpful for me to remember Rich Mullins, who served faithfully and loved honestly with all he was, being Jesus to all the people he could. We're not here to judge God or each other. We need to learn to love again. And to do that, we need to learn how to show grace, which is something so many of us have forgotten to do.

There's a ninety-minute tribute to Rich Mullins by Jon Rivers on the '20 The Countdown Magazine' website in Windows Media format. Well worth a listen.


Robert Elbourn said...

Hi Duncan how'ya doing, nice to see you are still about.... how can I contact you? wot you doing in texas, are there any curry houses there? Rob

Anonymous said...

This is Jason....are you in the U.S. visiting or here for good?