Last week, I made the brief mistake of getting into an argument with author Donald Miller on Twitter about the concept of “story.”
I say “mistake” because Donald Miller is an expert on story. Arguing with Donald Miller about storytelling is like arguing with Billy Graham on running a Crusade or arguing with the Situation on the Gym/Laundry/Tan approach to life. (A Billy Graham reference and a Jersey Shore reference in the same sentence? I should be so simile ashamed of myself.)
I say the mistake was “brief” because like most of my Twitter arguments it quickly devolved into Donald Miller and I trying to figure out how we could both get cast on a Mexican soap opera.
But in the midst of that discussion I did something unexpected …
I nouned myself.
I tweeted that we, the vessels, are important parts of the story, but it’s ultimately God’s story that is being told. Someone who follows me on Twitter immediately called me out on the nouning. And I realized in that moment there are really four different ways we get our noun on.
1. The Bride of Christ
A few weeks ago in traffic, I grumpily said, “Why is this guy in front of us letting everyone go in front of him?” I swear he was letting like 10 car circus caravans cut us off. My mom, in the passenger seat, instantly said, “Maybe he loves the Lord.” I think she was teasing me but the guilt she threw down reminds me of how I sometimes hear friends use the “bride of Christ” reference. We’ll be having some normal conversation about being kind to our neighbors and out of nowhere they’ll go from calling us “guys who live in a cul-de-sac,” to saying. “Well as the bride of Christ I think you should invite them to your cookout.” Classic.
2. Hands and feet.
If we are the body, why aren’t his hands breakdancing? That’s not the exact line from that Casting Crowns song but I used to live in Atlanta where they are from and you get a lot of underground mix tapes there. That’s the College Park Outkast version. This hands and feet or body of Christ reference is popular, especially amidst youth ministers who want you to rake someone’s yard as a community outreach. “Jon, I’m just trying to give you a chance to be the body of Christ.”
Christ is the vine, we are the branches. So says John 15:5. But you rarely hear someone say, “I’m just a branch, really, I’m just a branch.” I think sometimes we tend to avoid this nouning because the verses around this noun are pretty intense. If the branches don’t remain in Christ, they wither and are thrown away into a fire. We’re tip toeing on serious Wednesday territory, but people don’t like to reference this one as much as the others.
The vessel reference is rare, but the band Jars of Clay really popularized the idea that we are jars. My kids will never understand how popular that song “Flood” was. They were like the Christian Hootie and the Blowfish, and at the time, you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing “Hold my hand.” When I was in college, we had a Hootie epidemic the likes of which I have never seen. And Jars of Clay, with their pottery reference, were right there in the mix.
I am pro nouning, especially since it is Biblical. I wrote about it a while ago when I said, “Does God have the right to crack the vessel if that’s the fastest way to share with the world what he has poured into it?” And I plan on continuing to noun myself. Even if it’s in Spanish once my Mexican soap opera career takes off. My friend Bianca Juarez has connections and I’m pretty sure she can get me in a scene where I slap Donald Miller in the face and he pushes me down the stairs. Like a jar of clay.
Are there any nouns I missed?