Spent some time this week with several folks who truly believe that individuals can make a difference in the world by living their convictions.
Some focus on the environment -- they use alternative fuels, make their own clothes, and are making conscious consumer choices. Some focus on the poor -- they not only offer food and clothes and medical care, but they are trying to address the systemic issues that help to create poverty. Some focus on change -- they work with community groups to encourage volunteerism and an understanding of issues. And some focus on what I will call the "edge" people -- they embrace those that society chooses not to and in so doing becoming the very thing they embrace.
The group was made up entirely of Christians. And since only a few did all of the above, it was mostly a time spent in trying to understand whoever represented an "other" to you as well as get some more clues in how to do what you do better.
I admire the people who were there and who each day live what they believe.
I also have to question one aspect of that belief system. Get a group like this together and at some point you going to hear talk of suffering and sacrifice. And if you listen hard enough, that S&S speak is going to hint at something that bothers me: Jesus suffered on the cross. We are to be like Jesus. We must suffer.
I don't think so.
Those who know me know that "obedience" isn't something I'm drawn to. I tend to think it has something to do with father issues and having to grow up so early. But I value it, even if I don't always act on it. Still, I'm more inclined to say Jesus lived in obedience. We are to be like Jesus. We must obey.
That's a HUGE leap for me to express as a value but I guess I do and I've come to it out of rejecting this "suffering syndrome." I don't want that badge for my Girl Scout banner and I'm not going to go all gushy on you if you list the litany of ways you've sacrificed for the cause, made you and your family (who may or may not share your enthusiasm) give up and give in, and how you're waiting not for an earthly reward but the day when it all makes sense in heaven.
Uh uh. Not for me. For what little I believe specifically about God, I have a pretty strong grip on this one -- God isn't somewhere over the rainbow. God's gift to us that we can be guaranteed of, and not even leave to a matter of faith, is this life. I intend to honor that gift.
And ultimately, when it comes to talk of "getting outside one's comfort zone" I believe this . . .
We are all unique for a reason. If my comfort zone is your mission field -- one you'd suffer through in order to serve -- then really allow me.
Your pain is no one's gain.