Courageous Voice - Rev. Mark Taylor

Be strong and courageous. Don’t fear or tremble before them, because the Lord your God will be the one who keeps on walking with you – he won’t leave you or abandon you. - Deuteronomy 31:6 (ISV)

As a minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), I live in an interesting duality of sorts. One of my favorite hallmarks of the Disciples denomination is we don’t have to agree on much of anything; there is no official dogma handed down from the church on high and no creeds to recite in worship each week. So as you know, we are blessed with a multitude of understandings and interpretations of Scripture. The extent to which this occurs in our denomination is somewhat unique, at least in my experience.

It is difficult to live in a space that allows for differing opinions and interpretations. Human nature dictates we like to be right, which often means if you disagree with me, you have to be wrong. Seldom is there room for the understanding that maybe we can both be right, or harder yet; maybe we don’t need to be right.

So what does this have to do with being a DOC minister? Quite a bit as it turns out. Ministers are called, amongst other things, to lead, prod, and help to move people closer to God and the way God calls His people to live. Because of that, there is often a desire to make a stand, to draw a line in the sand, to reach out and say with great confidence “THIS is what God desires!” There is an innate desire to be the courageous, prophetic voice leading the church toward God’s way of life.

But it’s far more complicated than that. Ministers are also called to meet God’s people wherever they may be, to care for their whole being – the spiritual, emotional, and physical being. Because of this, it is often not helpful to draw that line in the stand and shout at people. Let’s be honest: when was the last time being shouted at actually changed your life? I’m guessing never.

We want to be that courageous voice proclaiming the truth, but maybe that’s not really being courageous. Maybe that’s the easy way out because it does not require us to take the time to understand the other side(s) of the issue. Perhaps the courageous voice needed today is not a confident declaration of our understanding of God, but instead a willingness to walk through life, to live in community, to meet at the table with those who might be at a different place in theirs.

What about those things for which we feel a deep moving passion? Can we be active and involved in those areas and still be willing to abide in this grayish, messy area of life with others? Absolutely. Look at the way Jesus lived. He spoke out against the injustices of the world, but Jesus also was willing to meet people where they were. He met their physical and emotional needs and prodded them spiritually to a closer relationship with God. He was passionate about love for God and love for people; there was no doubt about that because of the way he lived his life. That, my friends, is the courageous voice we need to find today.

God, teach us to be courageous leaders for you. Give us your grace and patience, but also your passion and love extended to all people. Amen.

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