I began my trek in relational 24×7 intentional community within a group called Jesus People U.S.A. when I was 18 years old. At the time of this writing JPUSA continues to serve a wide range of people young and older from varied subcultures, the poor, outcasts, elderly low-income folks, often quite broken people of broad racial and ethnic heritage. We live and serve in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. So here I remain 47 years later! It has been an amazing, fulfilling, sometimes difficult and for me, never boring life.
We do this with God’s prevailing daily grace.
Having to choose again if I could, I’d still have done this. Why? With little elaboration or detail, 3 reasons:
*God’s clear calling on my life
*Relationships of nurture and challenge that have helped me grow and learn to serve daily regardless of -anything- or -anyone- whether I feel loved or not (though typically I feel very loved indeed)
*Because we are either active in loving and serving others or we are not
The actual fruit of our labor is God’s business. It’s our business to by love, serve one another.
What I’ve learned in community is that there’s a time to speak and a time to hush.
Now, you don’t have live as I have and do to learn such lessons or build such relationships, but as an early Jesus People leader (Jim Palosaari) often said, “Community is like a hothouse. It can really heat up but that’s where things grow!”
My friend Colleen passed a recent Plough article on to us and in that they often have great things to say about close community living, and in that Dr. John Perkins is a longtime friend, mentor and African American founder of an amazing multi-racial community in Georgia (not to mention the key person who helped JPUSA link and become members of the Ev. Covenant Church!) I read John’s recent piece with interest.
He made excellent, solid points worth our time and consideration.
Yet in his quote which I cite here, two issues leapt out that I wish to comment on now. (The entire article is linked below)
“We need a quiet revolution.
But for me, hope and fear dwell together as I look out at the church today and see how what could be revolutionary might be just some more religious jive. Pope Paul VI said it for me. He was hosting a conference in the Vatican on church spiritual renewal and in one address he said something like, ‘This movement for our church is like opening up the windows in an old house. The joy! The life! But I admonish you, there are those in the world who make up the majority – they are hungry, thirsty, naked, without shelter. They will demand more than your joy.'”
I agree with John as well as the obvious truth of his quoting the Pope here.
It’s absolutely true that at times we need to be quiet. Pray. “Selah”, pause, stop and think about things before blurting out whateveritiswethinkweknowsomethingabout.
I am a big-mouth, a man of FAR too many words. The issue is whether or not I live what I believe, act upon the words and life of Jesus Christ in my daily relationships, in my unseen “private”, “personal” life as well as in public service in and beyond local or larger church. That’s THE DEAL my friends, for me, for you, for all who claim to seek and demonstrate true “Christian community”.
I have never preached COMMUNITY. Deeper still, Paul says “We do not preach ourselves but CHRIST and Him crucified”. Right. There. Boom.
But like marriage, as in any really close and closer relationship we either engage, interact and walk in a posture of humility and learning or we do not.
Community is about what we and others locally have in common, our willingness to engage, struggle, fuss together.
It will not last nor flourish unless we forgive one another, continue walking together when plenty of people will take you as an affront and enemy simply because they do not seek to do likewise, or truly don’t have the same sense of calling or just need time away from a crowd (large or small) due to hurts. It’s about faith, hope and love, it’s all about the appx. 111 New Testament “one anothers” that those of us who claim Christian faith so often royally fail in!
All this said, I cannot speak for John but expect his theology is grounded solidly in scripture re. elements such as living a quiet life, a godly life so that we are able to function in peace regardless of government, systems and so forth. It’s a more gracious confronting of the issue in neighborhoods and even rural areas that he is looking to encourage and has indeed created with others over his lifetime. His 3 R’s are in my view, totally sound and not only understandable for anyone but fully doable!
The next issue which must be considered is yet his overall sense of “we cannot sit by and watch the parade”. I’m stating this sharply, he did not use such tone, but it begs to be stated point-blank. As such, -all- believers have opportunity to get up close and personal with people in need nearby our geographical location if not immediate neighborhood.
John is indeed calling for us to live AMONGST the poor, the disenfranchised, the “least of these” and this is a major rub for plenty of white Christians -can we not face the truth of this? The revolution just got un-quiet. Why?
Such a call involves crosses, at times rejection by family and friends, even possibly via some in the local church who may consider you an idiot for putting yourself in potential troubles, harms way and so forth.
I can hear (and not without some measure of sense) people saying “THIS goes TOO FAR!”
NOTE: The same folks who will call “the other”, the minority people, the poor to individual responsibility are often the last ones to pick up on Jesus call (or here, John’s) to actually do such difficult displacing of their lives for the sake of His kingdom work -which means working alongside people you and I would rarely if ever choose to actually live and serve among. I mean, short-term missions is one thing but…
And this also is a major rub.
Likewise is the fact that the Bible doesn’t lay out a specific budget for us as singles, families, local churches re. missions, etc. does it? Therefore WE make our choices on the sort of stuff we need to have, the ammount of loot to live on, WE choose our own individual, marital and family comfort and safety quotients. WE steward our money, lives and time as WE see fit. Is it possible that runs hard up against and counter-intuitively to doing as John suggests?
Let me be fully clear: I am under zero delusion that all Christ followers must live as I do or serve as I do much less manifest the same precise gifts and calling God has placed on my life. Got that!! At the same time, if one applies John’s 3 R’s (carefully think through his article please) I think it’s tough to not recognize what I’m saying here.
This said, the revolution becomes noisy. People who may get displaced politically or find their financial speculation taking a hit often become one’s enemies right at such a juncture. Noisy. Even nasty. When someone else’s vision disagree with yours -and their plan for ever more money, economic and social standing and power looks to be going in the negative due to your involvement with the poor, people can get very, very nasty indeed. Loud, even!
There is a time when love and even truth needs to be silent -but true love also speaks! Consider God’s WORD, Jesus’ WORDS.
Does anyone really believe He didn’t speak out of deep love for us with the objective that we would ACT UPON HIS WORDS?!
When we actively love, serve, respect, apologize, forgive, stay close and open, honest in our commitments to Jesus and those we do life with, community is precious and a gift. When we do not, it can be a genuine misery!
What is mostly true in any deeper human relationship is also mostly true in close community living.
If prayer were only about listening… but it isn’t. If relationships were only about modeling and never speaking/writing and such… but they are not.
So any revolution that truly brings needed change re. poverty, racism and the like is not something to brag about, to focus on our own greatness or part be it large or small… no… and thus silence yet action is essential. Got that. That’s the truth and wisdom of a “quiet revolution”.
Yet there is an activism that cries out loud and clear. No prophet of God in either Testament simply sat in silence and as such fulfilled the will (and Word) of God.
Most of the prophets had hard lives and were widely persecuted. John the Baptist lost his head BECAUSE the revolution he was part of meant speaking truth to power. He was not quiet. Count the cost indeed.
The issue is when to speak, how to speak and not glorifying one’s self or accomplishments but (on the silent side of things-) “answering the foolish talk of evil people by doing good” as the scripture admonishes us. I expect that was what John Perkins was getting at.
He as I and many believers are tired of the vitriol across political party lines and via social media, again, making “a quiet revolution” a sensible phrase.
The joy- regardless of how genuine the gift of koinonia and fruitful service to others (and personal growth in the fruit of the Spirit) is only one side of the issue. Weeping with those who weep is the other, and this is where plenty of us fail.
Finally, I personally think his last R (Redistribution) is The Potential Answer as well as most difficult. I’d love to see John unpack what this looks like and in specific, the practical crosses to those involved. When that bridge is crossed we’ll see the real fruit of justice, love and mercy where there has been deep need and misery for far too long.
I created this short link to John’s full article via The Plough: https://tinyurl.com/yc67orzd
Thanks to Dr. John Perkins and The Plough for the fine work!
As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn