Code Red (Basic) Christianity
Theatre III – Code Red Christianity
At the beginning of this book you were invited to brace yourself, a challenge similar to the one God issued to Job: “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you will answer me.” If you’re white, you braced yourself through the whole Cocoonianity Theatre, and you made it! If you’re black, you braced yourself through the whole Fatherless Theatre, and you made it!
Congratulations. By making it this far you’ve endured some serious soul-searching and passed the “weed-out” courses. More exciting and more important, you’ve proven that you have the Right Stuff to fight and win the War on Racial Dissonance. You have the Right Stuff to tackle the third, final and most important non-negotiable of the War on RD. You have the Right Stuff to help resist—and then crush–Red Word Deficiency.
And just what is the right stuff? The right stuff is Basic Christianity. You may already be a Basic Christian but if you’re not, the very fact that you’re made it through the weed-out-theatres—Cocoonianity and Fatherlessness—proves that you can become a Basic Christian just by making one simple choice: All you have to do is choose to be a Basic Christian.
And just what is a Basic Christian? The Basic Christian is not a Christian as the world defines it, nor as most Christians define it. To the world, a Christian is anyone who believes in Jesus. To Christians, a Christian is anyone who confesses and believes that Jesus is their ticket to heaven. Neither definition captures the essence of the Basic Christian.
The Basic Christian is not a fundamentalist, which is to say that the Basic Christian does not profess to swallow every word of the Bible hook, line and sinker. Nobody under high heaven—nor in heaven, for that matter—is a genuine fundamentalist. How can we be certain of this? Because the genuine fundamentalist has long since chopped off his hands and feet and plucked out his eye in accordance with Mark 9:43-47, and we know of no such person. The Basic Christian, meantime, takes the Bible seriously, but that is not to say that he or she takes every word literally.
Neither is the Basic Christian a Jukebox Christian. The Jukebox Christian knows just a few Bible verses by heart and “plays” those same verses over and over for those who listen and those who do not, never understanding that his life is a constant violation of Jesus’ edict, “Do not throw your pearls to pigs (Mt. 7:6).” While the Basic Christian is fully equipped for life
(Mt. 4:4), the Jukebox Christian is equipped for one thing and one thing only, and that one thing is pretense: By sticking to a tight “script,” he conveys the impression of much greater Biblical depth than he actually possesses, and his goal in doing so is to glorify himself rather than God.
Nor is the Basic Christian a Relative Christian. The Relative Christian knows that God does not grade on a curve yet acts and speaks as if God does indeed grade on a curve. What kind of twisted hypocrisy is that? It is the twisted hypocrisy of our plentiful neighbor, the Relative Christian.
The Basic Christian is not a Super Christian nor a religious superstar. She is neither a navel-gazer nor a self-appointed guru. In fact, if you were to meet one, the Basic Christian might not even strike you as particularly devout or holy. That’s because the Basic Christian is not overly concerned about how she strikes you. She is mostly concerned with pleasing Jesus, her commanding officer. She is concerned about executing his orders and sending the devil limping back to hell with a black eye and a bloody lip time after time, skirmish after skirmish. The Basic Christian is a lean, mean, territory conquering machine.
Before we go any further let’s inject a “practical” into this discussion so as to keep Basic Christianity from sounding like just another pie-in-the-sky religious myth. Remember the “Seven Sons of Sceva?” If the seven sons of Sceva had been Basic Christians instead of wimpy counterfeits, their story would have ended in victory rather than defeat. (Acts 19:11-20)
Briefly, Sceva was a Jewish priest, whatever that means. Sceva’s grown sons had heard all about the cool “magic tricks” Paul was doing in the name of Jesus, so they decided to give it a whirl.
Well, the sons soon ran into a man who had an evil spirit, and the evil spirit was a tough customer. When the sons tried their tricks by saying, “In the name of Jesus, do so-and-so (be healed, for example),” their words had no more effect than “abracadabra.”
“I know Jesus,” said the man, “and I’ve heard of Paul, but who are you?” Personally, seeing as how the man was possessed by an evil spirit, I believe his actual words were more like, “Who the f*** are you a**holes?” But hey, let’s keep it nice.
The possessed man then beat the living daylights out of all seven sons and sent them away limping and naked. He thrashed them, stole their clothes and laughed them right out of town.
Now, had the Seven Sons been Basic Christians rather than pretenders, they would not have laid down and rolled over. They would have stood their ground and said, “If you know Jesus then you know us, because he’s the sheriff and we’re his deputies. We are possessed by his spirit. You hear that, you little punk? You are less than a bug on Jesus’ windshield. Now then, we can do this the hard way or the easy way, but one way or the other you are coming out of that man and hauling your sorry tail out of town!”
Basic Christians don’t have to be dramatic or showy or use fancy religious words. They know who they are. They know the power and authority at their disposal, and they use that power and authority confidently and wisely.
So what exactly is a Basic Christian? A Basic Christian is a “red word” Christian, which is to say that he or she is focused on cooperating with every word that comes straight from the mouth of Jesus; the so-called reds words in a red-letter edition of the Bible. The Basic Christian memorizes, internalizes and exercises the red words first and foremost.
Basic Christians memorize…the red words.
Basic Christians internalize…the red words.
Basic Christians exercise…the red words.
The Basic Christian has at her disposal every tool and every weapon needed for effective living and effective fighting. No essential is lacking; hence the term Basic Christian.
Think about the attractions and benefits of Basic Christianity for just a sec. A typical Bible contains about 620,000 words. That’s a lot of weaponry to lug into battle every day. A typical New Testament contains about 140,000 words. That’s a lighter load to be sure, but still cumbersome.
Enter the Basic Christian equipped with red words. There are only about 20,000 red words. That’s 1/30th of the whole Bible and just 1/7th of the New Testament. That’s a manageable arsenal indeed, especially in this age of the vanishing attention span!
As Christians, we are supposed to be street-smart. We are supposed to be able to think on our feet, make quick decisions, know when to advance and when to re-group, when to speak up and when to shut up, when to hug and when to punch.
But we’re not all that, are we? And why are we not all that? Because we’ve all been religiously rope-a-doped. Because we’re bogged down by the demands of our daily lives and hodge-podged into spiritual vertigo by the random sermons—from who knows where in the Bible– that we ingest like so many crumbs of a Twinkie every Sunday. Because we either have zeal without knowledge and are constantly dying on the wrong hill (Pr. 19:2) or because we are Bible-trained beyond our practical pay grade and don’t know how to fight at all (Ecc. 12:12).
We may be Christians alright, but many of us are not yet Basic Christians. We have never studied the red words, much less memorized and internalized anything like a significant portion of them. How then can we expect to exercise what we have yet to internalize? We can’t, and if we think we can we are all fools. If we are Christians but not Basic Christians, we are in fact the most pitiful of fools. We are nothing but dim-witted, heavy-footed plodders, forever blocking punches with our faces.
Let’s get real. We humans tinker with the Bible for 70 to 80 years, never mastering any of it. Then we die off, leaving all the spiritual wars to be carried on by another generation of humans as poorly equipped as we were throughout our lives.
Meanwhile, evil spirits do not die off. They have long since mastered their field manual and they add to their skill set day after day, year after year, century after century. The evil spirits that stowed away on slave ships are the same evil spirits that are fanning all the flames of racial dissonance today. They are an elite, veteran force opposed by an entirely fresh crop of bumbling, stumbling, ill-equipped Christians every 70 years or so, and they are literally laughing like hell at our ineptitude.
It doesn’t take a theologian or a Vegas oddsmaker to see that we Christians are a bunch of little Davids going up against a well-armed Goliath day after day without so much as our slingshots. In order to turn the tide of the War on RD, we need a slingshot, and that slingshot is Basic Christianity.
This is more than mere wordplay. This is cold, hard, spiritual reality. According to Jesus (the red words!), every Christian has the power of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:7). In turn, the Holy Spirit’s job is to remind us, in all situations, what Jesus taught (Jn. 16:13). But how can the Holy Spirit remind us of what Jesus taught—the red words—if we’ve never studied the red words in the first place? He can’t
Once we lock onto the red words we can tune our frequency to the Holy Spirit’s voice.
Then and only then can we walk in step with the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:25), and once we get in step with the Holy Spirit we become capable of “divine spontaneity.” Then we will be both “shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves.” Then and only then we will be equipped to fight. Then and only then do our little slingshots become mighty spiritual weapons.
In football terms, the whole Christian life is a “hot route” that requires constant adjustments on the fly. Basic Christianity puts us in touch with the Holy Spirit, who in turn tells us what adjustments to make on the fly, which in turn makes us the street-smart, battle-ready soldiers we’re supposed to be.
Basic Christianity makes each of us a force to be reckoned with despite our relative spiritual youth and inexperience. It equips us to go head-to-head with an intimidating opponent in full and reasonable confidence of victory.
How cool is that? Pretty cool. And how hard is it to become a Basic Christian? Not very hard at all. Just spend a few minutes a few times each week memorizing, internalizing and exercising the red words!
Now, someone will surely object that what I’m calling Basic Christianity is actually “Delicatessen Christianity,” that it’s wrong because it takes from the Bible only what tastes good and leaves the rest. Poppycock! If you start with the red words, you’ll soon find that you’re acquiring an appetite for other parts of the Bible as well. In no time at all you’ll be searching the whole “deli line” for complementary nuggets that make Basic Christianity even more powerful. But it all starts with the red words and grows from there because “the laborer’s appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on” to learn even more and fight even better. (Pr. 16:26)
Be street smart yet harmless. Peace.