The “Bon Chretien”
By Barry Pearman
We all want to be a “Bon Chretien,” a “Good Christian,” but real change is only possible if we’re willing to start from the Inside Out.
I remember when I first heard of the title of Inside Out. I thought it was a strange title. I believe Larry even commented somewhere about it probably not being the most catchy of titles.
But I remember reflecting on another name—the name of a variety of pear.
I love my fruit and have at times been an orchardist.
The variety of pear is Bon Chretien. “Bon Chretien,” meaning “Good Christian.”
I had learned as a child this pear received its name due to being good all the way through.
Many pears may look good on the outside, but take a bite, and you find rot on the inside—only good for the compost heap.
As we all know, appearances can be deceiving, but, when you had a Bon Chretien pear, you knew you were in for a complete delight.
Larry’s Inside Out book was not about behaviorism – shining the skin of the pear and hoping it would cure the rot.
It was about being honest with the rot. Really honest.
Look at these quotes.
Pulpits all across the country distort the gospel of a crucified Savior and resurrected Lord who pours His other-centered life into us. They insist that a certain kind of moral behavior will lead to blessings, and they do so by encouraging followers of Jesus to lead The Managed Life, an ethical but self-centered life that will persuade God to open the windows of heaven and shower our life and our culture with everything we need to live The Blessed Life. Inside Out (p. 8) Kindle Edition.
Psychiatric labels direct attention away from the real issues that must be addressed if spiritual fruit is to grow. We are not psychologically disordered; we are sinful people who believe lies about what must be ours in order to experience fulfillment. Inside Out (p. 8) Kindle Edition.
As we try to understand the process of change, we must realize that deep change comes about less because of what we try to do and how hard we try to do it and more because of our willingness to face the realities of our own internal life. Inside Out (pp. 191-192). Kindle Edition.
So many people who glowingly report that their lives have been turned around by a seminar, church, or counselor sometimes make me think of figures in a wax museum. They look like the real thing, but they don’t breathe. You expect them to move like living people, but they never do. These are not the folks you want to be with when you’re in real trouble or deep pain. Their words of encouragement are always appropriate and warmly offered, but they fall flat. You never feel more alive after a conversation with them — a bit cheered or instructed, perhaps, but never alive. Inside Out (p. 194). Kindle Edition.
When I sat with Larry
When he took off his shoes and put his feet up on the coffee table, I knew this was different.
I was attending the Spiritual School of Spiritual Direction in 2004, and I had the opportunity to have a one-to-one chat with him.
I, a young pastor from New Zealand, had never been to the USA before, and here I was sitting with someone I had admired for some time. I had read all the books, watched some videos, I even had an email address with ‘crabbite’ in it.
His words from Connecting had been the cornerstone of what God was calling me to do. They still are.
Beneath what our culture calls psychological disorder is a soul crying out for what only community can provide. There is no “disorder” requiring “treatment.” And, contrary to hard-line moralism, there is more to our struggles than a stubborn will needing firm admonishment. Beneath all our problems, there are desperately hurting souls that must find the nourishment only community can provide—or die. Larry Crabb. Connecting (location 171) Kindle Edition
Here we were. Two flawed men, wanting to be Bon Chretien followers of Jesus.
I can’t remember anything of what we talked about.
But the memory of him taking his shoes off, being intently interested in me – well, that has stayed with me for the rest of my life. He was willing to have an inside look into me.
The Bon Chretien Prophet
I’ve been reading a contemporary of Larry’s lately.
In Run with the Horses, Eugene Peterson gives reflections on the life of Jeremiah.
He describes the character of a prophet.
A prophet is obsessed with God, and a prophet is immersed in the now. God is as real to a prophet as his next-door neighbor, and his next-door neighbor is a vortex in which God’s purposes are being worked out. The work of the prophet is to call people to live well, to live rightly—to be human. But it is more than a call to say something, it is a call to live out the message. Eugene Peterson, Run with the Horses, (p. 46) Kindle Edition.
In writing Inside Out, Larry was the prophet calling people to live well, live rightly – to be human. To dance in a Colorado Springs ice cream parlor to “Are you lonesome tonight.”
Do you have someone to have “Inside Out” conversations with?
Barry lives in Auckland, New Zealand, and you can learn more about him on his website Turning the Page.