Interview with A.J. Swoboda, Author of “Messy: God Likes it That Way” – Part 2
I’m continuing my interview with A.J. Swoboda in regard to his book, Messy: God Likes it That Way. It’s an important book in that A.J. helps us realize all of life is messy, from messy church, to messy prayer, messy family, messy sin, messy sex, messy relationships, messy suffering, messy theology to messy life. A.J. takes a bit of time to touch on it all.
JR: You mention that “creation was a group project, not a sole proprietorship” and that “God is a board, not a CEO”. How should this inform our approach to leadership in the church?
A.J.: The church is designed to reflect the Trinity. God is a small group. God as Father, Son, and Spirit is the genetic make-up of the church. Likewise, we should strive to exist in the light of the Trinity; communal ecclesiology is imperative especially in the top-down way we tend to exist in Western cultures.
JR: You talk about how some equate the Bible with God, instead of looking at Scripture as pointing us to God. Why do you believe this and what are the negative consequences of this belief?
A.J. I don’t believe it, I know it. Ask any any Christian how their spiritual life is going and I suspect 99% of them would confess how little they have been reading their Bible. Such an approach to Christian spirituality is particularly nauseating because it does away entirely with the necessity of the cross and resurrection of Jesus in our life. I heard John Wimber once describe the Bible as a menu. A menu serves as a sign to the stuff that is available. Simple put, the negative consequence of accepting the Bible as your personal Lord and Savior is that you are practicing idolatry. The Bible didn’t die for your sins and rise from the grave. The Bible exists as a map to get you to the empty tomb.
JR: How have people responded to Messy thus far? How have they been most encouraged and most challenged?
A.J.: Some like it. Some hate it. Most encouraging, without question, is a girl who picked up the book at work by a co-worker. She read the book all night long. In the morning, she returned to work, handed the book back, and said, “I believe.” She is a Christian now. On the flip side, most frustrating is the stuff I already disagree with what I wrote in the book; “writers remorse.” But that’s what grace is for.
I will finish my interview with A.J. next week. Messy: God Likes it That Way is now available at Amazon and other fine bookstores.