Fresh Air

I‘ve just ended meetings that were remarkably different from those I commented on in the last post. In fairness and to provide balance I offer an assessment.

The participants were equally engaged as in the other meetings, but in a different way. This group was looking to the future and focused on how to enable ministry, not how to control and regulate it. That’s a fundamentally different attitude. It’s also a way to approach faith.

Faith, in my opinion, plunges us into the world, it does not remove us from it. It exposes us to the world in ways that can, at times, be risky and even threatening because we believe the world is created by God and God is the great mystery.

We don’t fully understand the depths of creation; neither the internal DNA that is our software, nor the physics of the universe. We are still seeking to comprehend it. We do not comprehend the fullness of what we call God. Out of this belief, however, is the conviction that the world is not a hostile place.

It’s reasonable for you to ask me, “How does this relate to church meetings and organizational dynamics?” From my perspective, it means simply that to engage the world from the stance of faith is to enter into relationships trusting in the goodness of creation, aware that it is not our world, but the Creator’s.

Yes, I know some people and some organizations don’t have the good of the world on their agenda. They’re self-serving and even exploitative. But the challenge of faith is to understand this and engage it in an attitude of transformation.

I think the key is trust. Trust in the goodness of Creation and in the work of others with whom we share the Creation. Trust. Do we trust each other enough in our relationships to work toward transformation in an environment that can be hostile and risky?

If this sounds esoteric, it isn’t. It’s really about how a person of faith acts upon belief. For an inspiring example of the strength of trust to create change take a look at a video about the work of Nelsa Curbelo Cora, a grandmother in Guayaquil who has brought peace to street gangs in the Ecuadoran city. Ms. Cora says, ““Everything in society tells us to distrust others. I think it’s the other way around. We need to profoundly trust in those around us, in their potential and in who they are.”

An attitude of trust is the practical result of the scriptural claim that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) It’s a sad state when trust is lacking in faith communities but it is transforming when it is present.

The letter in Christian scriptures known as Hebrews is all about faith. The challenge of perceiving the sacred in Creation is not new. It’s as old as the faith itself. Some of us believe we must protect ourselves from an evil and capricious world, others that we must catch up with the God who is already transforming the world. This view doesn’t seek control, it seeks momentum. We must run to catch up to the God already beckoning us into the future.

Perhaps neither stance is unfaithful, I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that the air in the rooms where trust is alive is fresher, and breathing it in is exhilarating. Where there is trust, there is oxygen in the room. It invigorates us, feeds our creativity and equips us to enter the world with anticipation and joy.

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