You’re hanging around at Pizza Hut with your friends. After some discussion and a bit of debate (and a brief filibuster from Zac, who’s allergic to everything), you place your order.
The pizza comes and everyone digs in.
When the evening is finished and everyone goes home, there are one or two slices of pizza still on the tray. Every time you get together.
Why is this? It’s because pizza, when ordered as a group, is community property. No individual feels entitled enough to it to take the last slice. In fact, as soon as the pizza arrives, some people even start doing, in Kevin James’s words “the pizza math,” figuring out how many slices there are and dividing by the number of eaters, to arrive at the maximum number of available slices per eater.
Imagine now that this same group of friends, on the same evening, decides to not haggle over toppings. Instead, every person just orders a personal pan pizza.
The pizzas come to the table, and everyone digs in. When Jeff is done with his pizza, he reaches over to take some of Alan’s. Alan slaps his hand and says, “This is mine. You already ate yours.”
Forget about sharing. Forget about community property. It’s every man for himself. Not only will no pizza be left on the table, but each person will take home any pizza they did not eat. It belongs to them.
American evangelicals have a personal pan pizza kind of Jesus. He’s my personal Savior.
Hear that? He’s MINE! You may also have one, but you better have placed your own order for it (the sinner’s prayer, anybody?), because you can’t have mine. Even if I do give you some, I’m being generous. I’m not obligated to give you any. After all, Jesus is mine. He’s my personal Savior.
To evangelicals, then, evangelism is not sharing with people the God who is already theirs, but telling them about the God who is “mine” and telling them how they, too, can have their own personal pan pizza Jesus.
“If I was the only person on the face of the earth, Jesus would still have died for me.”
“When Jesus was on the cross, I was on his mind.”
Beautiful sentiments, but what if that’s not how God works? What if God actually belongs to everybody (and therefore nobody!), like the pizza shared by the entire community? What if Jeff has a right to Alan’s pizza? That is, what if God remains “community property” even when someone has what they think is their own personal Jesus?
That would mean that, as much as someone might think “He’s my God and he belongs to me and my group,” the truth would be that others get some too. Others who didn’t come to the table soon enough, others who don’t have the right information, or pedigree, or reputation. If God belongs to everybody, then he’s doing something worldwide, something the whole creation is going to get in on, something a lot of people are going to find outrageous. Something deeply, fantastically good.
This is not only the God I believe in, but the God I am positively counting on.
Question: How did this strike you? How do you think it is or isn’t fair? Let me know in the comments!