Friday, November 7, 2008

Is It a Mandisa Thing?

My faith, I mean.

Let me explain.

I love Mandisa. You know, American Idol Mandisa. I have actually met her in person very, very briefly, pre-Idol, and she was pretty cool then. She led worship at a retreat I attended, and that girl can rock it. When she gets her praise on, the demons tremble because that room is filled with the worship of Jesus! Mandisa has also sung at our church before. Again, girl can saaaang. When she sang "Sanctuary" with the choir, it was totally worth skipping Connect Group to hear! When she was on American Idol I watched every week, and voted like the teenagers do - about fifteen times in a row! (OK. Teenagers would have texted. It's the message, not the means...) I was beyond disappointed when she was voted off, but I also knew God had bigger plans for her than a FOX reality show.

I love Mandisa.

When her first CD came out I bought it right away. I am not a CD buying kind of girl, but this was worth every PayPal penny. You know how there are usually one or two songs on every CD you buy that you skip because they just don't click with you? Not on Mandisa's CD. I love every song! (So do Jude and Calvin now - they can rock it out on "Shackles"!) She has a Christmas CD coming out, and you can bet it will begin to look a lot like Christmas when that bad boy hits my CD player for the first time.

I just love Mandisa.

Although I have been around her less than Simon Cowell, I like to think of myself as good friends with her. We all have that famous person we are sure we could hang with, right? Well, Mandisa is mine. She is hilarious, spunky, authentic, and a faithful witness. I bet we could have a ton of fun roadtripping to concerts, laughing at ourselves (because we are witty and fun), and jamming in the recording studio. I really think we could hang. Me and Mandisa. My good friend Mandisa.

Yep. We could be close. Cross your fingers. See how tight those two fingers are? Well, herein lies the reality check - I am actually the pinky finger on that hand.

Sure, I listen to Mandisa. I sing along to Mandisa. I am interested in what she is doing. I am supportive of her pursuits. I have seen her on TV week in and week out for a whole AI season. I feel like I know her.

But I really don't.

Now, my point isn't that in real life Mandisa is some sort of evil diva. My point is that my relationship is based completely on an idea of her. I have a wealth of information about her (with which I form my high regard), but when it all comes down, I don't really know Mandisa. I think we could be best friends. But the reality is, we're not.

And I wonder sometimes, is that what my faith is like? Do I have lots of information about God, do I bump into Him occasionally, do I have my set idea of Him, and settle for that? When I cross my fingers to show our relationship, which finger am I and which finger is God? Do I sometimes find myself content thinking that God and I could be best friends, or do I wholeheartedly pursue that possibility?

This morning I was reading the verse in John chapter 10 where Jesus is talking about being the Good Shepherd. (As an aside, there are more profound spiritual truths in the analogy of God as the Shepherd, us as the sheep than you can shake a shepherd's crook at, but we'll tackle all that in other posts...) Jesus says, "I know my sheep and my sheep know me." The "know" he is talking about isn't an acquaintance "know". The Greek word means "to know, come to know, recognize, understand; to have sexual relations". It isn't just familiarity, it implies intimacy. It means that we understand Jesus and he understands us.

As a believer, especially in the culture in which I live, I find it's easy to be familiar with Jesus, but not truly intimate with him. And I found myself wondering this morning where my faith is right now. Do I know my Jesus and do I let Him know me intimately, or is my faith just a Mandisa thing?

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