I recently learned (probably from Seth Godin) that there are two types of roles: certified and performative. Roles defined by certification can be faked; for example, a man can sit in a medical office, examine patients, and give advice without really being a doctor. Conversely, the mere act of executing a performative role makes it authentic: if you get on a stage and sing to an audience, you are a singer, regardless of whether you are “qualified” to be there.
Today, as for much of its history, being a Christian is primarily defined by certifications: baptism, confirmation, membership, statements of faith, etc. As a result, there are endless arguments (and divisions) regarding about who is “really” a Christian.
What if it was other way around? What if there was something we could do, such that the very act of doing it was proof that we are being united with Christ, regardless of our beliefs or motives?
If we had such a word — let us call it “Christing” — we could reinvent Christianity as a centered set, built around networked communities of practice. Different communities could still have their own creeds and rituals, but what matters is how well they “Christ” together.
Similarly, we could invite newcomers to simply “Christ” with us, to decide if they want more of that. There would no longer be a need to get them to buy in to an exclusivist set of beliefs, traditions, and cultural norms. Instead, the focus is on drawing from whatever sources make you a better “Christer.” Because we all benefit the better you get at “Christing.”
So what might count as “Christing?”
Intriguingly, there used to be something very like that: communion — a word that means both belonging to the community of Christ, and the act of consuming the bread and wine that represent the Body and Blood of Jesus.
In that vein, the best candidate that comes to mind is “Redemptive Incarnation,” on at least three levels:
- Christ being formed in me
- Christ being formed among us
- Us forming Christ for the world
That is, emptying ourselves in a way that allows Christ to fill and overflow us.
That’s hard to capture in a single phrase, though. How about an acronym? INRI — I Need Redemptive Incarnation.
This new verb “inri” (inries , inried, inriing) means consuming and being consumed by Christ in a way that redeems me, my relationships, and my world.
I need to inri more, and better. Our world needs more inriers. The Body of Christ needs to remember, and practice, how to inri.
How about you?