Grab a Box, Folks, We're On the Move.

This weekend at church, a visiting bishop from Kigezi, Uganda, Bishop George Katwesigye, spoke to us about being prepared to move.  “When God moves,” he said, “you too must be prepared to move.

While this statement may seem obvious from a Christian perspective, I actually find it unsettling.  Moving, as I know well, is a total upheaval of your life.  It means you have to plan ahead, sorting through belongings to decide what is still useful or valued.  Possessions that no longer play a functional or deeply sentimental role must go.

Moving means that you send the bulk of your personal property to a new place and live for weeks on a minimal supply of items.  It means that you thoroughly clean the old place and turn in the keys.  You say goodbye to places and faces that mean a great deal to you, and open yourself to newness in every aspect of life.

Moving may bring you good things, but the process is hard.  Draining.  It makes you question whether the cause of the move is worth the cost of the move, even when you’ve already determined that it is.

Most of us don’t want to enter into any part of this process when it comes to our ideas, attitudes, beliefs, or preconceptions.  I sure don’t.  It’s hard to have to pack up things that fit us once, but don’t make sense any longer.  It’s discomfiting to realize that we didn’t know any better at one time, but have changed and grown and must let go of some old ideas.  Staying in relationship with people we love may require us to face, and deal with, complex issues we had already put in a box and labeled clearly.

Rare people seek out more change, more ways to mix it up and examine what is unformed or unpleasant about themselves.  I don’t know about you, but I am much more ordinary.  I want affirmation, not challenge.  Comfort, not hardship.  Yet lately I keep coming back to point after point, in secular and religious circles, that seem to indicate that hanging out with the same old ideas, confirmed by the same old people, isn’t going to get me where I want to go.  Maybe it’s Tim Challies apologizing to Ann Voskamp.  Or the story of Ai Weiwei, a Chinese dissident artist, wrestling surveillance photos of himself away from an undercover policeman in China, and saying, “I am fighting against someone I will never know.”  It’s Lisa McKay’s e-mail exchanges that deal with the elusive quality that hope possesses.  Cass R. Sunstein covers it in Going to Extremes.  Could a new tipping point arrive, sending us over the edge of the placid stream of spiritual comfort we’ve paddled on for so long, right into the exciting waters of opening ourselves up to what God is doing in various areas of the world, the Church?  Is it accepting that God is using people, imperfect people, even while every single one of us harbors some hypocrisy, pride, bad theology, or jealousy?  Andrea VanderMey calls for unity in her letter to the future church.

Bishop George said, “You are never to be quiet!  You must testify,” and “Enjoy the spiritual gift of love.”

Speaking forth, in love.  Paul wrote to the Ephesians and said, “…prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.  Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”

Unity, not conformity.  Knowledge, not omniscience.  Maturity in Christ, who was able to show perfect grace and abundant love in perfect right-ness.  These things will topple our idols over, whatever they are.  These things will help us get ready to move, because the cause is worth the cost.  I really believe it is.

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