Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Power in an uncultured faith
The two most prolific GUI operating systems of our day owe their initial successful launch to one killer application. For Microsoft, it was the spread sheet. For Apple, it was powerful graphics editing programs.
Church historians might look back at the "Third Wave" churches borne in the late 20th century in the same way. For two of them -- Calvary Chapel and Vineyard Christian Fellowship -- the killer app was a long-haired, bare-footed hippie through whom God appeared to explode like the Colorado River after a heavy snow melt.
When Lonnie Frisbee spoke, people shook, trembled and fell.
That scene might sound like the charismatic chaos that has since received healthy rebuking, but back in the day when churches were reserved to lawyers, doctors, and respectable members of society, this was a revolution. Frisbee helped open the doors of the churches to the castaways of society without changing the message of the church.
Rightly or wrongly, more people remember Lonnie Frisbee as the fallen evangelist who died from the complications of AIDS on March 12, 1993. Frisbee, we would later learn, struggled with homosexuality or bisexuality his entire life.
Frisbee never defended his lifestyle. He opposed it, in fact, although he never could seem to shake the fleshly instincts that led to his being dismissed from both the Calvary Chapel and the Vineyard. He was sexually abused as a boy, the type of event that might be attributed to some taking a sexually deviant path, but he never used it as an excuse to explain away his sin.
Lonnie just wanted to serve, and he served to bring thousands of the unchurched and unsaved into the doors of the church where pastors Chuck Smith and John Wimber were able to foster a real relationship with Christ. To this day, no one who witnessed Lonnie's service will deny that God was using him in powerful ways to reach people the church could not (or would not) reach before his arrival.
Lonnie was not Jesus and I do not mean to place him on that kind of pedastal. He would not want that kind of adulation, either. Neither do I want demean the real power of the Gospel that Lonnie preached. In the most real sense, the Gospel was killer app, but it was Lonnie reflecting the culture (or lack of culture) to which he preached that first allowed the Gospel to be heard.
However, Lonnie's life stands as a reminder to me that our sin is something we should always confront, but it should not stop us from doing the things God has called us to do. We will never be so polished a Christian as to be "worthy" of God's service.