Tuesday, February 06, 2007

LS: Take it to the Streets

We find a deeper knowledge of God together.My family lives in intentional community in the city of Lexington, KY. Committed to other believers in our faith community as well as to the people of Lexington, we seek, together, to live out the story of God, to be the hands and feet of Jesus to people who are suffering and in need of love and care. I think I’ve learned more about God in the past three months than I have in the last five years or more.

An old song says, “Now it is Jesus and me, for each tomorrow, for every heartache and every sorrow.”

Jesus and me. But is that how Jesus sees it? Me and Lisa. “Oh, yes, it’s Me and Lisa for each tomorrow.” That sounds kind of silly, doesn’t it? Especially if you’re a parent. Can you imagine singling one of your own children out like that among the others? I don’t know about your house, but at West Third, we are a family, not simply a collection of individuals; when one of us is gone, the rest of us feel . . . less.

Even as God Himself lives in community with the members of the Godhead (for without one of the members, would God be God?), I believe He’s called us to live in community with one another, to together learn who He is, together to be, as Lesslie Newbigin, theologian and missionary to India (to put it mildly) said, “a hermeneutic of the gospel” to a world in need of redemption.

Thus, the power of fiction!

Why is fiction so powerful? Well, on its face, we all say and hear over and over again, fiction is powerful because a story is powerful, a story will transmit truth and meaning so much more effectively than a bare statement of facts. Amen? Amen!

But why is this the case?As I’ve come to see it here in Lexington, it’s about one word: community.

When we pick up a novel, we are not just immersed in a story, we are immersed in a community of new friends, who live out their lives before us, who show us who they are in a transparent manner, who usher us to places we’ve never been. We have a common purpose with these imaginary friends: to get to the end of the story, hopefully in one piece, everybody a little wiser, a little bolder, a little more inspired.

When a book has the power to pull me into its community, I grieve when the end arrives, I want to stay with these people who I’ve committed myself to — allowing them to grow and learn in their own timing, their own way, trusting in the author to pull them through by the end. And when a book holds up a mirror and I see myself in truth for who I am, and contrast that with who I am called to be, I feel a certain gratitude.

What can we learn as believers from the world of a novel? I’ll name a few. Perhaps we can commit ourselves to other believers, not just on church days, but through the week. Perhaps together we can learn and grow, figure out what it means to imitate Christ, to do justice, love mercy and walk in humility, to get to know God more and, hopefully, come to the end of our story here on earth, a little wiser, a little bolder, our lives an inspiration to the next generation who, if we’ve done it right, we’re in relationship with. Perhaps we can allow our brothers and sisters in Christ some transparency, to grow in their own timing, their own way, trusting the Author and Finisher of their faith to complete them, to use them any way He sees fit.

Perhaps we can trust God to use our faith communities, and the Body, to hold up a mirror in love so that we might see where we fall short of an incarnational life; to show us if our lives, and even the communities of faith in which we find ourselves, are all about “me” or “us” and not about the living out the call of the gospel to the world for which Jesus not only shed his precious blood, but created in the first place.

It’s never easy to commit ourselves to others: to see oneself as truly part of the people of God, part of God’s story, part of God’s kingdom, for once we are aware of the story, we have only two viable options — step into the pages, or shut the book and remain in our “Jesus and Me” world.

For me, I don’t want to miss out on the action. I want to take the story to the streets, wherever they happen to be, with other characters alongside of me who ask the same questions, make mistakes, and seek to know the same loving, communal God. And I want to offer hope, and food, and kindness, and love . . . and in so doing offer them not only Jesus, but the Triune God, and the ‘good news’ that He is their God too.

Pax Christi,


Lisa Samson's newest release is Quaker Summer.


At 9:09 AM, Blogger Tina Ann Forkner said...

Wow, Lisa. Love your passion. It inspires!

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Heather said...

I love this post, Lisa. I couldn't agree more.


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