Leonard Sweet on Spittin Image, Beauty, and God’s Vomit


Here are some more quotes from Leonard Sweet in his book, “The Gospel of Starbucks”, which our Bishop wants us to read.  What do you think?

Most people today don’t fret over whether Christianity can get them to heaven.  They want to know:  “Will it make me a better person?”  Jesus did not call disciples so they could become Christlike.  He called them so they could become “little Christs,” or what I like to call spittin’ images.  Some linguists argue that the phrase spittin’ image derives from the Southern dialect where spirit and image were contracted into one.  To say that you are the spittin’ image of your father is to say that you bear both his spirit and image.  You bring together the visible and invisible, the tangible and the intangible, of your parent.  Jesus enables us to be his spittin’ image to both  body and character…

The passion of Christian faith is the ability to say, “Yes, Christianity can make you a better person.  That better person is Jesus.”  Christianity promises a provenance that can be certifiably Jesus.  Authenticity is not about being more relevant but about being more Jesus.  Do you speak with a Jesus voice?  Do you see with Jesus’ eyes?  Do you listen with Jesus’ ears?  Do you touch with a Jesus touch?  pp. 48 – 49

The world is not impressed that people attend church on Sunday morning.  If anything, such a gambit is viewed as a quaint waste of time.  But imagine if every Christian in the world were living as a little Christ?…

Early Christian mystics believed that God is born anew in every child. “Here comes God again,” they would say, “in deep disguise.”  God wants to work the miracle of the Virgin Birth in every one of us.  God wants to bring Jesus to life in every person and community.  Just as the apple seed becomes the apple tree, and lemon seeds become lemons, so too, the seed of Christ in Jesus can live his resurrection life in us.  We were created for the communion of union with God… p. 50  We are invited to become living expressions of God.  p. 51

Life’s second greatest passion is to grow a soul that is a beautiful work of art, a soul with such sensitivities that it can pick up signals of transcendence in the most unlikely of places, a soul with such stretch that it can experience the subtleties of life that separate the good from the bad, and the good from the great.  P. 53

Christian faith is designed to be lived experiences of beauty… p. 55

Consider how much time your church expends in creating beauty.  P. 56  Beauty is not pretty… is not useful… is not skin deep; it is soul deep… beauty magnifies message.  pp. 57 – 58

“Would that you were hot or cold,” God says, “but because you’re lukewarm (or more precisely, play-it-safe, middle-of-the-road, mediocre), I’m going to spit (or spew, or in the best translation of the Greek, vomit) you out of my mouth.”  (Revelation 3:16) You didn’t know there was a God-vomit verse in the Bible, did you?  Above this verse I have written in the margins this paraphrase:  “You make me sick, pew potato church.”  That’s why my bookmark is a Continental Airlines barf bag.  Whenever I want to join the crowd, or start to become faithful in my mediocrity; whenever I settle for growing a garden-variety soul, I get out my barf bag and remember that God loves variety that is vigorous and audacious.  pp. 59 – 60

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