This Saturday marks the 18th anniversary of the passing of the talented singer-songwriter-ragamuffin, Rich Mullins. I've taken this space before to point out the depth of his lyrics and the freshness of his perspective. (Just click on the "Rich Mullins" label below, and you'll see what I mean.)
This time around, I invite you to take a break from the noise that surrounds you and let the Spirit of God take these scattered quotes from the mind of Rich and apply them wherever He sees fit. (My thanks to the Facebook page, Rich Mullins Quote of the Week, for having posted these gems.)
- I don't know how you feel close to God. And no one I know that seems to be close to God knows anything about those feelings either. I know if we obey, occasionally, the feeling follows. Not always, but occasionally. I know if we disobey, we don't have a shot at it.
- But the nice thing about getting older is that it bothers you less and less how stupid you are. Because you hang out with smart people long enough and you see that they have nothing that you want. It's more important to be alive than it is to be smart. Better a living dog than a dead lion, I guess.
- The problem is that we in America trust institutions so much that we have all these other organizations doing the work of the church. And because they do this, the local body is robbed of the joy of actually involving themselves personally. I think that a lot of people want the Christian music industry to be an evangelistic or nurturing thing. People are looking at the Christian music industry and saying, 'Feed us! Convert us! Make us what we want to be!' And that is not the job of any industry. That's the job of the church.
- I personally have a real problem with really slick music and really slick lifestyles and people who are dressed in all the right clothes and all that - you know, being very "in" - because I think Jesus reaches to the people who are very "out".
- I get this all the time - "I'm so glad you came because I'm in such a spiritual low. It's been three months since our last Christian concert and I'm just starving spiritually." And I go, "Well babe, you're starving worse now than ever, because you just got a lot of candy. That's all I can give you. If you really want spiritual sustenance, go to church."
- We try to make Christianity attractive. And that's like saying I'm going to make the Rockies attractive. How are you going to do that? By letting them be what they are. I think nothing is more compelling than to see people who have the Spirit living in the Spirit, and not trying to advertise, just being what they are.
- Your friends that have kids and on their refrigerators, they have those really horrible scribblings that their kids do. And they're really proud of them. And you look at them and you go, "How can you possibly put that up in front of other people for them to see?" I think that a lot of us think that someday we're going to become the Van Gogh of Christianity -- that we're going to paint something truly, truly beautiful, and God is going to be so impressed that He's going to hold us up and say, "Here's an exemplary Christian." But you know what, I think God just likes people to scribble however awful it comes out. And then He goes, "This is my kid's."
- I feel like God's leading me out so I'm kind of sleeping with my shoes on. When God parts the sea, you don't want to say, "Oh rats, where are my sandals?"
- I think that all these doctrinal statements that all the congregations come up with over the years are basically just not very worthwhile. I don't mean to sound mean toward the people who came up with them. I understand in the past there have been many heretical movements, and we still need to maintain sound doctrine. But I think our real doctrine is that doctrine that is born out in our character. I think you can profess the Apostles' Creed until Jesus returns, but if you don't love somebody, you never were a Christian.
- Start realizing that your ministry is how much of a tip you leave when you eat in a restaurant; when you leave a hotel room whether you leave it messed up or not; whether you flush your toilet or not. Your ministry is the way you love people. You love people when you call your wife and say, "I’m going to be late for dinner," instead of letting her burn the meal. You love people when maybe you cook a meal for your wife when you know she’s really tired. If you are a Christian, ministry is just an accident of being alive. I don’t know that you can divide up your life and say, "This is my ministry," and "This is my other thing," because the fruits of Christianity affect everybody around us.
- And then he [Job] went to God and wanted to know why the righteous suffer. And Beuchner points out, God never gave him an answer. That God merely gave him Himself. And when Job had encountered the Almighty, the questions lost their power over him. And I think that a lot of us are real interested in some easy answers, and some "Wow, if I can, if we can come up with some kind of an easy answer to make life comfortable...." We're much more interested in answers than we are in the Truth. And the Truth is always going to be a mystery. It will always be a paradox. It will always be a little beyond our grasp. And if we're uncomfortable with that, that's okay, because a little bit of discomfort will keep us moving.
- The end is that God made man. He created him in His own image. He created him out of dust. He breathed into him the breath of life. Man became a living soul. He gave man sexuality. He created them male and female. And He gave man work. And I am just doing my work. I am not trying to write great albums. I'm not trying to write great songs. I'm not trying to do any of that. What I'm trying to do is be faithful. If I were a plumber... most plumbers don't say, 'Man, I'm going to come up with the most original arrangement of pipes here.' But when you flush your toilet, if things go the way they should go, you are very thankful that the plumber was doing their job.
Truth is...in addition to being a great songwriter and a well-read, profound thinker, Rich can also make a person laugh. Even in the midst of making a sincere point, the funny bone can be engaged:
"And people often ask what inspires songs, and I always hate that because you know, I have all my pagan friends and you try talking about the inspiration of the Scriptures, and I think when you just throw the word 'inspired' around loosely like that, it becomes very confusing to them. So I always like to say that my songs are not particularly inspired. The Scriptures were inspired. My songs are provoked."