“Knowing what you know about yourself and the world, what are you going to do?”
This is the question that American author Percy Walker asked throughout his novels.
This question was elaborated upon last week by Dr. Steve Garber at the Made To Flourish pastors conference that Geoff, Nathan and I attended in Kansas City. The purpose of this learning community was to resource, encourage, and connect pastors and church leaders in caring for their congregations in the whole of their lives; driven by that belief that faith, work, and the marketplace matter to God. Not only that, but also the belief that thriving churches are an integral part of a flourishing city.
This concept fits perfectly with our mission statement of “Experiencing and extending the transforming presence of Christ - together.” At Trinity, we are committed to the creating disciples who not only desire to experience the transforming presence of Christ in their own lives, but also, together, are seeking to extend that transforming presence to those around us, and the communities in which we have been placed. You might say, part of that extension is seeking the common good of the city. It is, as any mission statement should be, a call not just to experience, but also to action. However, experience is often easier, or at least more comfortable, than extension.
As Steve Garber writes, in his book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good, "Our propensity to deceive ourselves about our place and purpose makes it so very difficult to see the truth of our lives, to understand the meaning of our moment in history, and our responsibility to it."
Last night, a group of folks from Trinity - Palos attended Q Commons in downtown Chicago. It was a worldwide event, with both simulcast and local components. We heard from a variety of speakers, on a variety of topics, from a variety of perspectives. The goal of the evening was to get Christians thinking about common grace and the common good, and what it means to extend the transforming presence of Christ into our city - Chicago (and Palos Heights, and Crestwood, and Midlothian, and Worth, and Oak Lawn, and Park Forest, and Oak Forest, and Lemont, and Tinley Park).
We were encouraged and challenged to consider our present situation as increasingly marginalized and unwelcome voices in our culture, that our manner of speaking matters, that our manner of debate is not always helpful, the components of Christ honoring leadership must include both authority and vulnerability, and even to hear from those in the local black community about how they perceive and experience their lives in our city.
The evening was designed to not only start conversations, but to move Christians to actively consider what it would look like for us to extend the transforming presence of Christ into our communities. Even this morning, I'm not sure that I agreed with everything that was said, but I was moved to reflect upon the question that Walter Percy asked, and Steve Garber re-appropriated,
“Knowing what you know about yourself, and the world, [and the gospel] - what are you going to do?”
It is a question that comes from exploring what it means when Jesus says, “Follow me!”
That is a great, and difficult, and uncomfortable question. I am thankful that I am able to work through this question and all with my brothers and sisters at Trinity.
Serving Christ with you,