Maria and I returned from Atlanta late Saturday afternoon after spending several days at the CCDA Conference/Neo-Monasticism gathering. It was fabulous to see so many of the people who have become dear to us over the last couple of years, and we relished the opportunity to share this particular journey with Geoff & Sherry. And even though our time with them was limited, the simple fact of being able to be there together and share the overall learning experience was invaluable. God is doing a lot of exciting things on the national and international level to bring together groups of Christians who are hungering for a deeper and more engaging expression of their faith in Christ. And the various personal and group interactions that I've had with folks along the way have been very challenging and invigorating.(there's more) They've really helped me to frame my experience in community here, even as my experience at Communality has had an overwhelming influence in guiding and shaping my participation in those settings. And as I reflect on this last journey within the context of our return to Lexington, there is one thing in particular that's come to the forefront. That one thing is the relationship between faith and risk taking.
At the Asbury Kingdom Conference two weeks ago, I read an article in the Good Works Incoporated newsletter where Keith Wasserman was observing that he began to spell "faith" R.I.S.K. when he and his wife were first starting Good Works. And Keith's elegant little dictum confirmed for me a current that had been stirring in my soul for several weeks. It was a current that had been crashing gently against the heavily fortified shores of my own complacency, slowly beginning to erode my defenses. And it had to do with re-evaluating the extreme comfort and security with which many of us in America live. The comfort and security that comes from having a Wal-Mart, Jiffy-Lube, McDonald's, or shopping mall right around the corner. For many of us, all we have to do is get in our car, drive to one of these establishments, and our needs/wants will be immediately satisfied. We're not used to having to wait very long to get what we want, and we're likewise not used to worrying about whether or not we're going to get those things. So, why am I making these observations?
I guess I'm really beginning to wonder if the relative comfort and security in which many of us live makes us prone to being very risk averse, whether that risk be physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, relational, cultural, political, etc. (as if these things are ever completely separate)? Does our incessant daily conditioning in a society where we have everything waiting at our fingertips make it hard for us to take risks that enable God to move in bold new ways? And is it any wonder that in a society where we have so much substantive material security, that the issue of national security has become the defining issue of our time? Maybe these are bad questions, and maybe they miss the point of where a lot of us are at present. However, I feel compelled to ask them, and to try to live out the answers day by day.
In Matthew 10:7-10 we read "....As you go, preach this message: 'The Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Do not take along any gold for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff;for the worker is worth his keep."
Naturally, there are a lot of things going on in this passage. But a couple in particular ensnare my attention as I consider the above questions. Jesus sent his disciples into a risky situation (they didn't have any planned place to stay, susceptible to bandits, etc.), to proclaim a very risky message (perceived by the religious leaders of the day as heresy), and ostensibly stacked the deck against them by forbidding them to take any supplies. But he didn't stop there. To top it all, he gave them the explicit command to "give freely" from whatever they'd been given, thereby cutting them off from ever being able to become too secure in their circumstances. And he did this (at least in Matthews accounting) at what appears to have been a relatively early interval in their relationship, not at the end......