Last Saturday night after The Road worship service, I was sitting around a fire talking and laughing with friends. One of our Road shepherds (elder) made a remark that caught my attention. He said that as we’ve been studying through the Gospel of Mark (my sermon series) that I’ve entitled “the messy gospel,” we should develop a new theology called “messiology!”
I agree. We are living a daily theology we might call messiology. Life is messy. Church is messy. Marriage is messy. Parenting is messy. Nothing seems easy these days. Messy is a good word.
Dogs are messy but people are more. I own a dog and she does almost everything I ask her to do—she fetches, she sits, she quits barking when I tell her, and she poops in the right places. I pastor people and they are messier than dogs. I’m sure the Lord feels the same way about me. We don’t listen, we fetch out everyone else’s problems, we rarely sit down except to eat, we talk too much, and we poop in all the wrong places. Messiology.
If there were such a thing as messiology we might define it as “the following after Jesus in the midst of a messy life.” Yes, that’s it. We abide in Christ even in messiness. We are messy because of Jesus.
We know Christ only in messiness. The hallow Jesus of stained glass Christianity not only doesn’t fit the biblical Jesus it doesn’t work in real life. The Jesus I see in the gospels is rugged enough to attract professional fisherman, vigorous enough to fast and pray in the wilderness for forty days, robust enough in his convictions that he can stare down the leadership of the Sanhedrin, and has a fury and wildness that can wreck the outer court of the Temple. Not exactly the typical pastor or deacon of your local church.
Jesus makes life messy. He calls us to leave behind our selfish ambitions and follow him. He calls us to love him more than our own families. He calls us to seek him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He calls us to forsake everything and go wherever he leads. That’s a big mess. That’s a huge messy risk.
So, how about you? You want the mess? Enter the messiology of becoming a disciple of Jesus. Jesus defined messiology this way, “If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin (lots of messes), you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.” Could it be that his mess is the actual order of the universe?
On the Road,
 Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: The Bible in contemporary language (Mt 10:38–39). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.