Recently, a friend and I were talking about how disturbed and saddened we’ve been by the hateful and decidedly unchristian words spoken by self-proclaimed Christian leaders in recent years. The examples are too numerous to cite, and each has its own agenda of hatred and division. I complained that it was so deeply unfair that such intolerant and offensive perspectives were being allowed to speak for me and all other Christians.
My friend offered a profound and simple response: “Chris, they only speak for you if you don’t speak for yourself.”
The language of vocation confirms that at no time in our lives are we
exempt from responsibility for others. We never stop being called
to share in the creative and redemptive activity of God through lives
It was the spring of 1963 in Birmingham, and it looked as if the civil
rights movement would suffer yet another defeat. The powers that be had
more jail space than the civil rights workers had people. But then one
Sunday, reports historian Taylor Branch, 2,000 young people came out of
worship at the New Pilgrim Baptist Church and prepared to march.
The lectionary loves to take biblical texts that share some things in common and then watch as worlds collide once differences come to light. This week’s comparison-contrast of call stories is a perfect case in point. The story in 1 Kings 19 comes directly from God’s lips to Elijah’s ears and from there to Elisha’s shoulders.
Few things are more humbling for a professor than to hear your classroom assertions parroted back to you. In the student’s puerile response you hear an echo of your own pronouncement—but on undergraduate lips the thought sounds unbearably stupid.
Seminaries generally do a fine job of educating the minds of people who are called into ministry. But how well do they form the hearts and spirits of those people? Do seminaries build leaders who are servants of Christ?
When you think of Jesus’ disciples, who comes to mind? Impulsive Peter and doubting Thomas? Surely. James and John, the Zebedee boys? Of course. Mary Magdalene and some of the other women mentioned in Luke 8:1-3? Yes, if we remember that Luke’s list of Jesus’ followers was much larger and more inclusive that just “the twelve.” But blind Bartimaeus? Hardly.
What book would you recommend to someone eager to learn more about Christianity, someone who is just coming alive to the faith and to the power of the community of faith—the church—and who is full of questions about these matters?