I've been off-line for a few days...letting my New Orleans trip percolate. There's a shift taking place inside of me. I think my trip opened my eyes to see something about who God is and what it means to follow in a new way.
Before we left to help with the Katrina Relief our team saw a video about a church in Covington, LA (Trinity Church) that was helping people with the devastation. One man who went to help said this at the end of his time of serving...."I'll never be the same. I'm not safe anymore. My church won't be safe either." By not being "safe" he was saying that he couldn't live the predictable, orderly, Sunday Christianity any more. He saw that following Jesus meant not only helping the poor and disadvantaged, it meant being WITH them in their pain. Not just "fixing" them but standing with them and identifying with them.
When I heard him say that, I thought, "I want that. I don't want my life or my church to be safe either." Well, I can't speak for the church yet, but for me, I'm feeling pretty dangerous...pretty unsafe in the sense that my focus is much more toward meeting people where they are at. I think I've already had that orientation, to a degree. But one thing that's easy to do in a helping profession is to think in terms of fixing - almost like a surgeon. You go in, help and leave... untouched by the moment because you know that if you open your heart up too much to all the pain around you you might get swallowed up and then be of no use to anyone. That's a valid concern but it can also be an excuse to remain aloof. And if that's people's take on me, I'm not helping them to see Jesus because Jesus was never aloof.
more to come...