One of the most important lessons I have learned in life is that the source of your greatest strength can also be the source of your greatest weakness. The ability to hold strong convictions can give way to shortsighted rigidity. Having a tender heart for others often leaves folks vulnerable to being taken advantage of. Same goes for trusting. The admirable and oft-needed practice of thriftiness can both prevent and cause a lot of anxiety. Waste not want not, sure, but sometimes you have to buy the memory. The capacity for self sacrifice often paves the road to miserable martyrdom in more than a few folks. You get the idea.
As a youngster I was well-schooled in the virtue of perseverance. I heard over and over how Churchill told his people “Never give up.” By the way, he didn’t say that. It was actually a lot of nevers followed by “give in.” Not quite the same, but still a great exhortation. I played a lot of sports, so Vince Lombardi’s words sounded as sacrosanct as most scripture. “Winners never quit and quitters never win”, he said. And history showed that few teams or players under his charge rarely did. And for good reason; one of his other quotes was “You must be fired with enthusiasm, or you will be fired with enthusiasm.” That certainly kept not keeping up to a minimum.
Let’s say a church wants to find the best possible way to be Jesus in the city in our city. We want to find a way to do the things that can bring impact that lives far beyond the act of caring. We can hope that our pointed efforts would pass the muster of making the world more like God would want it to be. Beyond acts of strategic generosity, we might want to prioritize building relationships to add depth, longevity, and authenticity. We would hope to find an opportunity that mirrors every challenge our community faces, and then simply ask the question “How can we help you?” Oh yeah, and we really work hard to do this with no agenda other than to be Jesus for some people and do it in a way that absolutely reflects the spirit of love that is uniquely his.
The last installment in the Finding Our Freedoms series arrives this Sunday. It has been an interesting walk for me pastorally and personally – as it oft happens when the implications of certain truths appear both pastoral and personal. It is my calling to bear witness of the Spirit that sets us free, free indeed. But once in a while that same Spirit will rise up to say “Hold on a minute, Glen; I need to bear you a bit of witness before you do.” And then He does; and did.