On Friday I celebrated my 64th birthday. As I often do, I took an assessment of my life and ministry. Although I am generally pleased, I decided one thing. If I am to make the difference in the world I believe God created me to make, I must be more clearly focused.
The stories of Holy Week are fresh in my mind. Simon Peter denying that he knew Jesus. Judas betraying Jesus and feeling guilty. Pilate washing his hands of any responsibility of Jesus. The soldiers and the crowd taunting Jesus and crying out for his death.
With these scriptures fresh in my heart and on my mind, I asked myself, “How am I responding to God’s work in my life?
- denying it?
- trying to work against it?
- washing my hands of my responsibility with my actions or lack of action?
Is There Enough Evidence To Convict?
My assessment also came after reading the book, “The Orthodox Heretic” by Peter Rollins. Through my reading and reflection, I focused on a question he raised, “If Christianity were illegal would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
I asked myself the following. If I were really to…
- take the teachings of Jesus seriously
- live a life that reflected the radical message of love that gives a voice to the voiceless and a place to those who are displaced
- stand up against the systemic oppression perpetrated by those in power
- speak into the evil of racism
- stand for health care for everyone and to call into question the cost of prescription drugs
- work for gun safety
Would I find myself on the wrong side of the people in power, of many people in the church, and of those who make the laws?
I realized, again, that I have basically kept my faith private. I have a lot of knowledge about Jesus and his radical message of love. But, I express my faith in safe and sterile ways. To put another way, I do a lot of talking but not a lot of walking in regards to being Christian.
To Be Found Guilty
For the remainder of my ministry, I want to live an authentic faith that is expressed. I want to live not only in my acceptance of a belief system but is expressed in dynamic sacrificial and loving action. I no longer want to fool myself into thinking that my private beliefs are somehow more important or reflective of who I am than how I live my life publicly. And when I say publicly – I mean in a relationship with my family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, strangers, enemies.
I want to be related to the people who are involved in the actions that bring God’s redeeming presence and power into reality. By God’s grace, I want God to work through me to bring about what God intended for this world in which we live.
If I am to be found guilty of being a Christian, I want to have the mind, heart, and attitude of Christ. I don’t want to do anything “out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.” By God’s grace, I want the humility to “value others above” myself. I want to look beyond my own interests to the interests of the others. In a relationship with the people around me, I want to have the heart, mind, and attitude of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to
his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a human man (male),
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross.
Life & Ministry
I have made peace with the fact that I may not see the full result of any ministry I have been graced to participate. But I understand that I honor God by offering myself in living this way. I don’t want to deny it or work against it. I don’t want to turn away from the work God has for me to do.
So, I am committing myself to hold back evil – in all the forms it presents itself. I am committing to repair systems and structures – especially the church that has helped make me who I am. And, I commit to being a healing agent for people who are broken and suffering. I am committing myself to be about the business of peacemaking. I will constantly be about the work of disrupting the façade of peace so the authentic peace of Christ can take root and grow.
Please pray with me and for me as I grow into this stage of my life and ministry. Pray that I am who God intends for me to be. I invite you to pray so that I can be who God needs me to be at this point and time in history. Pray that I can and will make the difference that God has created me to make.
Then, together, you and I will work so God’s love for all people will come on earth as it is in heaven.
Pray that I am found guilty!