Risking failure in a world of success
Jarrod McKenna’s Wednesday’s with Gandhi:
“My experience tells me that the Kingdom of God is within us, and that we can realise it not by saying, “Lord, Lord,” but by doing God’s will and God’s work… Do you know that there are thousands of villages where people are starving and are on the brink of ruin? If we would listen to the voice of God, I assure you we would hear God say we are taking God’s name in vain if we do not think of the poor and help them. If you cannot render the help that they need, it is no use talking of service of God and service of the poor. Try to identify yourself with the poor by actually helping them.”
–Mohandas Gandhi, (March 31, 1927) from “Mohandas Gandhi: Essential Writings” by John Dear, p. 81
For you or your community what does ‘doing God’s will’ when it comes to ‘the least of these’ look like? What are you inspired by, that it might look like? What do you long for it to look like?
What does it look like to move from ‘church charity’ run by some sweet old ladies, to being a people of missional solidarity? (not to disrespect radical nannas everywhere doing awesome stuff!)
Our crew have really struggled with this stuff. I don’t mean struggle in the noble sense. I mean struggle in the sense of it being bloody hard! Nearly as hard as living with each other 🙂 And like much of our life as community, it’s left us with not much to show other than some colourful (and painful) stories and a burning desire for God, for healing, for justice, for the kingdom and an awareness of our own brokenness and sin. Should we all move overseas to the slums we have only visited with our expensive cameras? Should we all just join UNOH? What does it mean to practice hospitality when you’re continually stolen from, physically threatened and taken advantage of? When all you’re left with is their used needles, hardcore porn, broken promises, and debt. When you show up in court to support them but they dont. When the trees you spent so much time planting and watering in the neighbourhood garden are ripped up. When you’re dumped with other people’s toddlers for days on end while they get high and you have to decided do you ring DCD and your only comfort is the lament of the Psalmist and your sisters and brothers prayers. Only to find out that our parts of the body of Christ are bagging you out without praying for you or seeking to correct or encourage you. Please don’t hear me writting these things out of bitterness. I write as a brother struggling with what ”actually helping them” (as Gandhi put it) looks like (anybody else?). Sometimes I come out of visiting in prison and just feel like crying for a day. Maybe these are the stories we need to tell too aswell as the times we come out feeling totally inspired.
Recently I was contacted by a pastor (of what most would consider a successful mainstream church), who had opened up his home to someone who had lived on the streets for years. This Pastor wanted to talk through the heart ache of seeing someone throw away the opportunities offered to him because he was stuck in cycles he couldn’t break out of. Maybe these stories are as important to share as the “success stories”? Maybe these are the stories that can ween us of the quick fixes and easy answers that we can so often hear to our worlds deepest problems. Maybe if we told these ones too we’d celebrate God’s transforming grace all the more! And real joy would truely be our strength.
Some of our crew were recently hanging out with a similar community to us in the States called ‘The Simple Way’. The Simple Way have a huge public influence through the success of Shane Claiborne’s wonderful book “The Irresistible Revolution” (which I highly recommend!!) But we were joking if we were to write a book it would be “A how [not] to” (shout outs to Pete Rollins who I also highly recommend!!!!). Maybe our book would be called ‘The Resistible Revolution’ or ‘The Very Resistible Revolution’.
Anybody else need to voice failed efforts? Gandhi said, “Freedom without freedom to fail is no freedom at all.” God, please keep us from the “success” that would keep us from entering into the pain of our world. And keep us from the failure that would stop us trusting only in the power of resurrection and the liberating joy that comes with it.