Tuesday, February 20, 2007

make mission tangible

This blog has gotten away from me again. If you’ll check back, you’ll note that that has happened several times now. I write, and I write, and I write and then, at some point, I give the blog away and allow it to become a forum. It’s hard to find a balance sometimes. I’m so passionate about so many issues that it’s easy to use this as a public forum instead of a place to simply journal about life. I’m sure I’ll lose the balance again, but for now, I’m going to at least try to get back on track.

One of the issues I’ve been really thinking through lately is the idea of authenticating my faith. I suppose, from the very beginning, that this has been a struggle. Cane killed Abel (or was it the other way around?) for what he saw as a de-authentication of Cane’s faith. The children of Israel looked to Moses to authenticate their faith, rather than going up on the mountain and meeting with God themselves. Even Paul spoke of some of the early Christians as drinking spiritual milk, rather than eating spiritual meat. And, in today’s day and age, we gripe about uninspiring sermons, boring and tired worship, and the lack of social service/justice opportunities provided in our local churches. Even today we’re looking for our church leaders to authenticate our faith, rather than owning our faith and getting out there and authenticating it ourselves.

This week I set out to change that in my own life. I’ve shared on here before that I’m tired of Make Poverty History campaigns that seem to challenge you to do nothing more than buy and wear a trendy bracelet, or Live 8 concerts that seem to challenge you to do nothing more than…well…go to a concert. I want to do more than just talk about fighting injustice. Yes, human trafficking is bad, now what are you going to do about it? I want to actually be in the fight. So today I met with a police officer in our community that I’ve done some work with before. I wanted to speak with her about two specific issues that deal very much with social justice in our neighbourhood. One had to do with some con artists that show up each year. This particular issue seems to have worked itself out in that some of the laws have changed that now allow the police to go in and kick these guys out which, incidentally, explains why I’ve not see those guys in a while. The other issue revolved around the “saunas” and so-called “massage parlours” that exist around our neighbourhood. My concern is not that sex is being sold in these places, but simply that women may be being trafficked in to do it. I spoke with the officer about it for a while. She assured me that her team make regular appearances in the places in our community, and that they assure the women that if they want to get out, they can get out then and there. I hope that’s true. In her opinion, the women in the places I was referring to are not trafficked in. I’m not sure that I believe that and intend to keep pushing it. There were a few other places, however, where she said the women had been trafficked in and were immediately shut down.

I did get a chance to talk with her about a whole host of other issues though, and made it very clear that we want to help. The amazing thing was that she voiced her cynicism and also made it clear that there would be a building full of cynical officers back at the precinct. I smiled and said, “And that’s why this will work. Because I’m cynical too! And that’s why I’m approaching you about this.” I went on to share my cynicism in a religion that is all talk and centres its life around a Sunday morning meeting. And in a religion that talks about injustice, but never gets around to actually doing anything about it. I told her that I was on a personal mission to authenticate my faith by getting involved which ended up leading to a discussion of Christianity and the message of Christ. It was an encouraging conversation. By the end of it we had brainstormed several ideas, and she was going back to the precinct to speak with her Sergeant about it all. (Incidentally, she had also agreed to teach a beginners Karate workshop at my Youth Councils in October.) Thirty minutes after she left, I had already received an email from her with ideas she and her Sergeant were working on.

I have not accomplished anything yet. But there is this glimmer of hope that maybe I’m finally onto something here. When I left my childhood denomination, I was looking for something more than I saw around me on a Sunday morning. I felt like I was doing Christian theatre, showing up on Sundays and entertaining Christians. I came to the Salvation Army because I believed that it was a church of action. I have learned, since that big move to Pittsburgh a little over eight years ago, that there are people riding pine in any denomination and that, if you want your religion to be authentic, only you can make that happen. Otherwise you’re simply riding the coat tails of other people’s authenticity.

Comments on "make mission tangible"


Blogger Trent said ... (2:05 PM) : 

I have not thanked you yet but I need to now. The recent correspondence between us has led me to that very conclusion. I must authenticate my own faith because I cannot wait to let someone else lead me to do the right thing. If I have to wait on a leader to lead me in doing what I am already convicted to do, I will probably not follow them anyway.

So, although I still think you need to turn something in to us, I sincerely want to thank you for pointing out some things that I need to do.


Blogger Estelle said ... (8:02 PM) : 

Tim, good to read again. keep challenging our thoughts and the perceptions of the community.


Blogger Larry said ... (12:20 AM) : 


You are so right. Leaders, no matter how good, will let us down. They will never measure up or lead us to exactly where God wants us. They cast a vision. IT is up to us to make a determination to join mission. What I said to you a week or so ago still stands. Any revolutionary thought or action starts with one person who takes upon themselves and intenalizes a calling to be different.

Glad to see that happening in you. Maybe now....the church will relfect more of what you believe it is called it to be because you have determined with the Holy Spirit's help to do what you believe it is called to do.


Blogger Roz Lynch said ... (3:11 AM) : 

If someone wears a Make Poverty History white band or a cross or a Salvation Army Uniform and that is the extent to which they act on their beliefs, its true that it is not enough.

Wearing a symbol of what you believe in, can though be a marker on the journey of your exploration of what you believe in, be it at the discovery stage, execution, evaluation or reflection for further disovery. And you are right, it is not enough to say this is what I am, this is what I believe in, without ever expressing it in my actions.

Good to see your actions speaking as loudly as your words!


Blogger dave wiggins said ... (10:59 AM) : 

Hi Tim. Did you ever think that the fact that people got together and raised the issues around traffiking has maybe pricked your conscience into putting your own faith into action in that area? Anyway, good post, enjoyed reading something sensible.


Blogger surrendered said ... (1:34 AM) : 

this is your best post


Blogger Sean said ... (2:33 PM) : 

, “when we have honored God with our obedience, our concord with the Father will prompt such praise that the glory of it will shatter all our practical propriety.” - Calvin Miller, Into the Depths of God

this is a quote from a very good book I recently finished for school. It is interesting that the church always falls into the trap of mistaking the sunday expression for the obedience as opposed to the sunday expression resulting from obedience.

I definitely feel your discomfort at not "authenticating" your faith. I like to call it "talking a big game" and I find myself in this pit often. I have to be reminded and challenged to seek hard after God and allow him to show me the "holy discontent" he puts on my heart, again. Mine is for teaching people no matter their status, and never "dumb down" the truth.

Yours is and has been sticking up for the bullied, which translates into social injustice. And I hope that for you and for me, God will continue to allow these things to wrench our hearts so that we have no choice but to recognize his own wrenched heart and be prompted to action.

Encourgement: way to start the conversation, its the right conversation, don't let it end in the planning stage. same for me, I don't want to talk a big game


Blogger jsi said ... (1:42 PM) : 

Very true, very right - Authentic faith is your faith, not authenticated by anyone else.
What deep thoughts you have today!
Difficult topics to address, especially within your neighborhood. Real subjects that affect real people in real and sometimes tragic ways. Continue to link your conversations with Christ, your desire for social justice with Christ, your protection for others witht he reality of God's love.


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