Thursday, January 3, 2013

the 'long con' and the kingdom

I am oddly fascinated by heist films - you know - classic movies like the Sting and, more recently, the Ocean's 11 series.  These stories typically involve a crew of people with various skills, a prominent target and a strategic plan. There is just something captivating about watching a team working hard to overcome great odds and risks in the quest for a big payoff.

In heist movies there is often a discussion about the difference between the short and long con. The short con needs little to no relationship - ideally leaving the victim completely unaware of the identity of the perpetrator of the crime.  Short cons swindle their 'mark' for the money they have on them at that moment. 

Long cons are after a bigger prize.  They are more involved and more lucrative.  But, the greater possibility for reward comes with greater risks as the long con artist (imbedded in relationship) is more vulnerable. 

That got me thinking - what would be the opposite of the con games?  What would a 'bizarro' version of them look like in light of the kingdom of God?

That kind of game would involve using relationships to bless others, not to curse them.  Instead of defrauding them, we would truly befriend them.   Instead of trying to hustle them out of their money we would hustle to serve them well. Instead of trying to scam them, we would sacrifice for them. 

And what should we call the opposite of the short/long 'con'?... well, since we would be acting for the person and not against them, how about... the short/long 'pro'? 

When I think of the 'long pro' - I picture this team of people using their diverse skills as part of an elaborate and unified effort to help people experience the love of God.  Doesn't that sound awesome?  Isn't that what the church was called to be?  And some of these 'long pro artists' would willingly take on the risky and rewarding scenarios - they love and bless people who may not now (or ever) love them back.  They imbed themselves in real, trusting relationships, honoring the people they serve over the long haul.  

In the 'short pro' we would know our efforts are limited. But that wouldn't be an excuse not to take advantage of opportunities (however short) to pass on some love and care.

I spent some time yesterday with a young man today named Rahatman.  He has only been a Christian for a few years and is going through some growing pains.  He is beginning to see the costs involved in leaving behind some of his families old and destructive patterns.  His friends and the church he is a part of has been patiently working with him and encouraging him to live a transformed life, fully committed to Christ.  This community has been doing the hard, slow work of the 'long pro.'
This is a secret that the heist movies have to teach us - that greater risk is associated with greater rewards.  My hope is that the church see its mission as more than just a shotgun, smash and grab, 'short pro' approach.  My hope is that the church would invest more of its time and energy in the 'long pros' - knowing that is where the larger rewards are found.

How about you?  What do you think?

Grace and Peace,

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