Somewhere along the line I failed in one area of parenting. Last night Chris and I watched the play-off game. I assumed, naturally, that we would both be cheering on the Cards. But that wasn't the case. I was born in Missouri; he was born in Texas. He's an Astros fan! (Actually, I am too . . . but not when they're playing St. Louis.) Then I talked to Matt on the phone and told him we were watching the Cardinals' game. He said, "You mean the ASTROS' game!" He's lived in Houston only four months, and he's already turned. I will say this: neither of my boys--at least to my knowledge--roots for the Evil Empire. Minnesota couldn't stop them, and it doesn't look like Boston will. Could it be a rematch of my first World Series game in 1964: the Cardinals vs. the Yankees? - - - - A friend wrote me recently to tell me about a message he'd heard expressing fear that we (in Churches of Christ) might lose our distinctiveness. And my buddy pointed out that the distinctiveness this minister was concerned about wasn't in relationship to the world--i.e., distinct in holiness--but rather in relationship to other denominations. Where did this obsession with distinctiveness come? Why so much time worrying about whether we are different from others? Does our identity and worth come from being unlike other Christ-followers? What if our identity came from following the Way of Jesus Christ? We wouldn't have to worry about how distinct we are from others; rather, we could rejoice that there are others who are seeking to follow the same Way. Sometimes I've heard people make it sound like we ought to do (or not do) something because it preserves our distinctiveness. Is that really a good reason? It worked pretty well for the Qumran community (who could reduce the world into "sons of light" and "sons of darkness" with their own little odd group as former), but I don't think that's what we want. Yes, let's be distinct. But not as many have meant it. Let's be distinct: - by receiving with joy our identity and the sons and daughters of God through Jesus Christ; - by recognizing that the Spirit of God continues to indwell and guide us; - by pouring our minds and bodies into following the Way that Jesus has charted and led; - by participating in the mission of God in this world; - by continuing to pray, "thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven"; - by encouraging one another rather than competing with one another; - by living with radical hope amid a world of despair; - by praying for all the people of the world--allies and enemies; - by refusing to let money dominate us, opting instead for constant giving and sharing.