Jesus followers have always been called to be in this world,
but not of this world.  We have 
been challenged to ‘not conform to the patterns of this world’.  At one point we are reminded that we
are part of the commonwealth of the heavens.  One of my favorite descriptions of the early church gives 
the following picture of those Jesus followers,

For Christians cannot be distinguished from the rest of the human race
by country or language or customs. They do not live in cities of their own;
they do not use a peculiar form of speech; they do not follow an eccentric
 manner of life.. . . .Yet, although they live in Greek and barbarian cities
alike, as each man’s lot has been cast, and follow the customs of the country
in clothing and food and other matters of daily living, at the same time they
give proof of the remarkable and admittedly extraordinary constitution of their
own commonwealth. They live in their own countries, but only as aliens.
(“Letter to Diognetus” chapter 5)

Aliens, not of this world, not
conforming … this describe rhythms of living that will look markedly different
than the culture around us.  I
often ask, “what is different about our community?”, “how are we living a

Later in this same letter – the
author states that,

To put it simply: What the soul
is in the body, that Christians are in the world.

here we see that the alien, not of this world, not conforming acts as a mode of
living that enhances the world.  It
becomes the soul of the place.

find this deeply attractive.

I read another of Emmanuel Katongole’s essays entitled: Christianity, Tribalism, and the Rwandan Genocide. In it he expounds on
a concept he attributes to Sallie McFague.  It is called “Wild Spaces”.

Katongole reflects on the
genocide in Rwanda and notes that,

“To be sure, it is not exactly clear how
such marginal existence can be recovered by Christians in our time, especially
when Christians find themselves in predominantly Christian countries like
Rwanda. I suggest that as a start it might be good for Christians to give up
the impression that they have a stake in the development of a “Christian
nation,” and instead focus on allowing the church to become a “wild
space” within, or at the margins of, the dominant culture.”


 Rwanda, South Africa is also predominantly a Christian country (in statistics
at least).  I also resonate deeply
with Katongole’s insistence that one should give up on the notion of a
“Christian nation”, ala Angus Buchan phenomena.


 describes those wild spaces are places where the skills are developed wherein
people live rhythms and lives that “do not fit the stereotypical human being 
or the definition
of the good life as defined by conventional culture”.  He also notes that this kind of life is “not the province of
a self-sufficient way of life ‘outside’ Western capitalist and consumer
 society. Rather, wild spaces are created or discovered in the rifts of that 
very culture.”


 explains that one is to imagine a circle with conventional Western culture and 
then another circle imposed over it.  It also is crucial to remember that the spaces are created in community. Katongole quotes McFague,


‘If you are [a] poor Hispanic lesbian, your
world will not fit into the conventional Western one. It will overlap somewhat
(you may be educated and able-bodied), but
there will be a large crescent that will be outside. That is your wild
space; it is the space that will allow—and
encourage—you to think differently, to imagine alternative ways of living. It
will not only give you problems, but

 about these ‘wild spaces’ have become really exciting to me.  I believe these ‘wild spaces’ are what
we’re encouraged to live into when Jesus teaches us to pray, “your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.


 South Africa and specifically in Johannesburg, I think these wild spaces can be
created by exploring new imaginations; especially in challenging conceptions of race, class association and
money. This is the work of the church.

Wild spaces we can live into as followers of Jesus


The large crescent outside : race, money and class association + …..?

Problems: when we live into these alternatives it challenges old assumptions and previously ingrained habits.

Possibilities: because it will allow and encourage communities to imagine differently.

What do you think can help us create and discover “wild spaces”?