Community in Action November 4, 2020

Today started out with another challenge for me, as a believer. This challenge is not just a spiritual inspiration, but it is a challenge which comes from a new author in my reading and a conviction that as salt and light we need to be witnesses to a greater cause under a greater authority than non-Christians.

    Today I started reading a new book, big surprise there, called Joy Unspeakable by Barbara A. Holmes. It is a book about contemplative practices for Christians. Contemplative practices include prayer, meditation, and contemplation. I tend to gravitate more towards doing than being but in the first few pages of this book Holmes reminds me that, “the biblical story is one of intimacy and relationship,” which requires presence as well as performance.

    Yes, these two factors, intimacy and relationship, in a Christan perspective should lead to action for without them social action merely turns into a justice exercise. An exercise where the powerful are the determiners of what is just and what is not. We, as believers, must rely on our God, our community of faith, and scripture to guide us towards loving just action.

    Yet, Holmes also reminds me that any action to be scripturally based means we have to live into a surprising but daring mandate “to be neighborly in a world that may not reciprocate.” It is normal for me to be treated with kindness and respect, which I try to reciprocate if not be the initiator, but in 2020 I am realizing more and more this is not everyone’s experience.

    As I move into exploring the life and ministry found in the book of Isaiah I realize the expectations for the Messiah by the Jews was a hero beyond parallel. The veneration of king David makes the expectation of the coming Messiah superhero like. And as we all know most superheroes come to defeat our enemies with power and might. We expect our heroes to exact revenge and bring us into a life of ease and reward.

    Yet, the Christian life, at least on this side of the grave, is not one of ease and luxury. Just as the life of Christ was not one of ease and luxury. The Christian life is a life of meaning and assurance of being valued, but there is a cost. This cost is not one I like to contemplate, but it is one which I believe is worth all the trouble we will see on this earth.

    So I must continue to hold Philippians 2:3-4 as two guiding verses for how to treat others in this world. Verses 3 and 4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others about yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

    So I ask you to consider this challenge for yourself as well. How can you be neighborly to those around you even when they don’t reciprocate?

    Negotiating the challenges of our life as a Christian with you,

    Pastor Randy

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