Encouragement for the Journey
I came across an interesting piece from Desmond Tutu this week, which speaks to the real struggle we have to be the body of Christ – not a static principle, but a vital, diverse and always in the process of being transformed body.
“Isn’t it noteworthy in the parable of the good Samaritan that Jesus does not give a straightforward answer to the question “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). Surely he could have provided a catalog of those whom the scribe could love as himself as the law required. He does not. Instead, he tells a story. It is as if Jesus wanted among other things to point out that life is a bit more complex; it has too many ambivalences and ambiguities to allow always for a straightforward and simplistic answer.
This is a great mercy, because in times such as our own — times of change when many familiar landmarks have shifted or disappeared — people are bewildered; they hanker after unambiguous, straightforward answers. We appear to be scared of diversity in ethnicities, in religious faiths, in political and ideological points of view. We have an impatience with anything and anyone that suggests there might just be another perspective, another way of looking at the same thing, another answer worth exploring. There is a nostalgia for the security in the womb of a safe sameness, and so we shut out the stranger and the alien; we look for security in those who can provide answers that must be unassailable because no one is permitted to dissent, to question. There is a longing for the homogeneous and an allergy against the different, the other.
Now Jesus seems to say to the scribe, “Hey, life is more exhilarating as you try to work out the implications of your faith rather than living by rote, with ready-made second-hand answers, fitting an unchanging paradigm to a shifting, changing, perplexing, and yet fascinating world.” Our faith, our knowledge that God is in charge, must make us ready to take risks, to be venturesome and innovative…” ~ from ‘God is not a Christian’, 2011.
I find myself wondering: do I recognise in myself the longing for the security of sameness?
And how are we engaging with God’s invitation to us – the exhilarating pleasure of working things out in partnership with one another and with the Holy Spirit?
These are challenging times and challenging questions, worth our time, energy and attention as we live our way into them.