By Shavon Starling Louis, MDiv ’13
Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. Luke 16:10
I have been amazed in recent days, weeks, and years by the amount of abundant anxiety that is shared as helpful wisdom. Anxieties around relevance, anxieties around the BBs (Butts (membership) and Bucks (meeting the budget)), anxieties around technology, anxieties about being anxious.
It’s happening in politics and its happening on our churches. The work to be faithful in community—to truly be the beloved community—can seem really hard.
Until you realize that it’s not. It just takes actually activating the faith that we proclaim. It takes actually believing that God is with us—all of us—always.
I mean to say, it takes the kind of knowing that starts in your core and stays with your core even if your head struggles to get there or struggles to stay there.
The ability to move forward with God when the way seems murky, questionable, or downright shi … ahem … crappy is what we are called to do in this life as Christians.
I see colleagues stock their libraries with the newest books on creative leadership. They read for hours a day searching for help to discern best practices for the next leap of faith in their ministries.
I thoroughly believe that call is not about leaps of faith – it’s just about being FAITHFUL and cultivating faithfulness.
No, I’m not in denial of the difficult of ministry. Trust me I have had more than a few moments as a member and as a leader when I stood in the middle of the church folk and wondered “Where in the world is Jesus in this place?”
I have had my butt kicked for standing up to bullies, but I have also seen people gain their voices because I was willing to stand up to those very bullies.
Likewise, I have been inspired by those who, by raising difficult questions to the powers and principalities of the day, stood in the gap for me and others whose voices were stifled or marginalized.
This kind of love is in our core.
It is double love commandment faith that must we must allow to seep in our spiritual DNA as the body of Christ. It must permeate our being so much so that when we—as the body and as members of the body—choose love over fear we are no longer surprised by the choice.
Being awkwardly honest is not a leap of faith. It’s just faith. I am blessed to work in an intercultural, multi-racial, multi-ethnic setting. It is beautiful, but really human. The only way I have found to navigate the space with integrity and hope is to be awkwardly honest. It can be exhausting and scary to name power dynamics that look or feel oppressive. It can feel odd to question the myths and systems that are at work in the congregation, community, and local government.
But this sort of “feeling our way” through lives with compassionate empathy can allow us to celebrate the beauty and uniqueness for which God has intentionally made us. Showing compassionate empathy is not a leap of faith. It’s just faith.
The reality of life is that we need each other to be well if we are to be well ourselves.
The South African and Zimbabwean name this as Ubuntu. I am because we are.
Family, we’ve got to stand up to the lies of insufficiency and the lies of scarcity not with a leap of faith, but with the power of being faithful people.
Furthermore, we should expect that we will be knocked down as we share the truth of Love Incarnate.
We should expect that the sources of brokenness in the world won’t like it when we love those we are conditioned to fear and hate.
We should expect to be targeted when we comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
But you, my friend, are able to do so not because of superior intellect, but because within your core, within our essence is the truth of an Everlasting, Ever-loving God.
Now that being said, if you have lost your faith, which is real and happens to most of us at some junctures of this faith journey, I pray that you please take the time to search out your faith in the places where God speaks to you—nature, spiritual direction, community, or solitude.
We need you well.
About the author: Shavon is a 32-year-old Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of Southern New England and is originally from St. Petersburg, Florida. She’s a graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary and serves as the Co-Pastor of Providence Presbyterian Church in Providence, Rhode Island.
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